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Gil Cedillo

Nury Martinez, Kevin de León, Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera Must Resign

Clockwise from top left, former council president Nury Martinez, councilmember Gil Cedillo, councilmember Kevin de León, and L.A. Labor Federation president Ron Herrera (bottom left).

Yesterday, KNOCK-LA and the L.A. Times reported on the leaked recording of a private meeting about the redistricting process where L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, and L.A. Labor Federation President Ron Herrera use cruel and abusive language to disparage a Black child, the city's Black leadership, and L.A.'s Black community. They can also be heard taking aim at indigenous peoples, Asians, Armenians, and LGBTQ+ people.

The goal of the 2021 meeting, as all four reiterated multiple times, was to preserve and expand the power base of the Latino community via the redrawing of the maps. Very early on in the recording, however, it becomes clear that their approach to preserving power means putting limits on the power of Black Angelenos. The anti-Blackness that surfaces again and again throughout the hour-and-twenty-minute conversation helps make clear why they believe it is so urgent to do so.

About 25 minutes into the conversation, Herrera takes the proverbial gloves off and asks what any of the Black leadership have done for Latinos. Martinez and de León then discuss their belief that councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson's effort to restore assets taken from his historically disenfranchised district during the last redistricting process is a ploy to ensure that the next councilmember in the neighboring district - presumably a Latino, given the changing demographics in that area of South Central - is left with nothing.

The specificity of the accusation is notable, given that that exact claim became a key talking point of those sending in public comment from CD9. Meaning that the us vs. them framing and the racism undergirding it (e.g. the implication that Black people are trying to steal something they didn't earn from hardworking Latinos) had been actively passed on to district residents from above in classic divide-and-conquer fashion.

Of course there was so much more.

Both Martinez and de León disparage councilmember Mike Bonin for speaking up on behalf of racial justice and equity - de León calls him the "fourth Black" and Martinez (who already called Bonin a "little b*tch") accuses him of using his child, who she says "looks like a little monkey," as an accessory. Not content to stop there, she goes on to criticize the then-toddler's behavior during the King Day parade and to lambast Bonin for raising him like a white child and saying that she'd gladly give the boy a "beatdown."

Rather than call out her comments, however, Herrera commiserates, saying there wasn't much that could have been done during the parade because it was too dangerous to leave Bonin or his son along King Boulevard: "Well you can't let him off because the spectators will beat his ass." Cedillo is then heard affirming Herrera's characterization of the community as inherently violent.

The clear divisions they've drawn between Black and brown help explain things like their disparagement of newly-elected CD1 councilmember Eunisses Hernandez. It is not surprising that Cedillo is not a fan, given that she is a political rival who would go on to win his seat. But Herrera makes clear that the bigger issue is that her mentors, including assemblymember Isaac Bryan, are Black. What have they ever "done for our peeps"? Herrera asks.

The message is clear: Black-brown solidarity is dangerous and anyone who stands on the side of justice for Black people (e.g. D.A. George Gascón, per Nury "F*ck that guy...he's with the Blacks" Martinez) cannot possibly have the well-being of Latinos in mind. Or, at least the Latinos that matter to Martinez et al, that is.

The city has unfortunately always led with a divide-and-conquer approach, forcing Latino and Black communities to duke it out for crumbs to preserve a status quo benefiting wealthier whites. That's one (of so many) reason(s) this episode is so ugly: the leaders heard on the recording are all aware of that history and the damage it has done, yet they opted to perpetuate it.

Streetsblog joins with numerous organizations, elected officials, and individuals calling for the immediate resignations of all four of the participants on the call. It's time to resign, Nury Martinez, Kevin de León, Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera. And, no, Former President Martinez, resigning as council president while keeping your council seat doesn't count.

KNOCK-LA has published the full recording of the meeting here. See Sahra Sulaiman's twitter thread breaking down the audio here. Find statements from councilmembers Harris-Dawson and Bonin below.

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