NLG-LA Statement on the Racist Words and Actions of LA City Council Members

The National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles (NLG-LA) is outraged by and condemns the racist, homophobic, and antisemitic words and actions of Nury Martinez, Kevin DeLeon, and Gil Cedillo that were exposed over the weekend. The comments by City Council President Nury Martinez, her fellow Councilmembers, Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, and now-resigned L.A. Labor Federation head Ron Herrera, were repulsive and a betrayal of the public’s trust in them as elected officials. It is also very troubling that nobody at the meeting spoke up against those terrible comments. We are also disturbed by the news that Council candidate Traci Park had defended the City of Anaheim in a racial discrimination case where a city employee used a racial slur in the presence of another employee.

These recent events highlight the ugly fact that racism against Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) has long been a cornerstone of Los Angeles politics. We need leaders who truly represent this diverse city and use their power to dismantle these systems of oppression, not propagate and strengthen them.

The stakes are too high for us to sit idly by while our elected officials or prospective elected officials engage in this behavior. BIPOC populations suffer from disproportionately high poverty and incarceration rates and are likelier than other populations to be unhoused. The City Council should invest in our communities, not tear them down.

The Black community in Los Angeles has long suffered from brutal discrimination, which the City Council must address immediately. A 2020 Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights report found that between 2017 and 2019, black Angelenos were 3.8 times more likely than white people to receive a citation for minor infractions. These interactions with law enforcement are often fatal. According to data recently released by the Los Angeles Times, the police have killed 983 people in Los Angeles County since 2000. Black people represented 24% of these killings despite only making up 8% of the population. The police are targeting black Angelenos, and our elected officials are responding by not addressing these disparities and instead attacking those they perceive to be allied with the Black community. This is a failure of leadership.

We also call for an investigation into votes cast by Councilmembers Martinez, de Leon, and Cedillo, particularly around redistricting and past votes that impact the numerous communities that were hatefully discussed in the recordings. Angelenos deserve a complete account of how the leaders’ racist motives have shaped our city, harmed BIPOC populations, and propagated white supremacy.

As an ally to the Black community and other marginalized groups, the NLG-LA unequivocally calls for the resignations of all involved. We also ask Angelenos to hold Traci Park accountable for her record.

(Disclaimer: Traci Park’s opponent in her election is Erin Darling, a former NLG-LA Board Member)

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