By telling the LAPD to open an investigation into the identity of the Reddit leaker, the City Council is taking advantage of LA’s standing army to clamp down on protests and opposition.
On October Oct. 9, an anonymous whistleblower uploaded to Reddit a tape of Los Angeles City Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Kevin de León and Nury Martinez plotting to redistrict the city in their favor. The tape also caught racist references to nearly every minority group in the city, including other councilmembers. Also at the recorded meeting was Ron Herrera, head of the Los Angeles Labor Federation (LA Fed). Since the LA Times reported on the tape, only Martinez has resigned (without apology), but calls for the resignations of Cedillo and de Leon have followed.
Across the city, historically leftist coalitions of anti-racist groups, unionists, tenants’ rights advocates — representatives of nearly every group the recorded councilmembers maligned — have decried the Council’s corruption, and have demanded transparency. Despite the uproar, Martinez, Cedillo and de León have broken their fall with the assistance of another disgraced institution: the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
On Oct. 25, the three councilmembers asked the LAPD to open an investigation into the identity of the whistleblower, a move not out of place in the pattern of the City Council and LAPD’s consistent exchange of funds, endorsements no commaand enforcement in the interest of upholding both institutions as authorities in the city. The LAPD and the LA City Council are, unsurprisingly, abandoning their shared responsibility to be politically independent institutions bound to the will of the people.
By personally asking the LAPD to search for the leaker of the City Council tape, the City Council is transparently taking advantage of the LAPD’s expansive judicial power to silence dissent.
When considering the relationship between the City Council and the LAPD, I think of the LAPD’s habit of threatening protestors at City Hall with violence when they seek to make their voices heard. That’s not an incorrect assessment; the LAPD does serve to stand guard in front of City Hall to protect council members from their angry constituency. However, the reciprocal relationship between these two institutions goes much deeper.
The LAPD’s instant cooperation with the City Council isn’t surprising given the family connections: the LAPD’s wedding gift to former City Council President Herb Wesson’s son, Justin Wesson, the (Chief of Staff of the LA Fed) to Alexis Marin (Martinez’ Deputy Chief of Staff) was free security presence, motivations for which LAPD spokespeople have declined to reveal.
The LAPD is, of course, indebted to the City Council as well. As of May, it has been the gracious recipient of a $3.2 billion budget allocated by the City Council as well as a $150,000 gift from an anonymous donor that the City Council voted to accept on the LAPD’s behalf. In the same Council meeting, councilmembers conveniently decided to reject a settlement proposal from Laura Montilla, a recent graduate of the University of Southern California after she was brutalized by the LAPD.
They say that Los Angeles is a leftist paradise, but the actions of the City Council make clear that this is far from the truth.
As the Republican party openly embraces fascism, our city must stand as a bulwark against its warning signs: the power of millions of people in the hands of a few, extra-legislative dealings with the police and the militarization of law enforcement to uphold authority.
City Hall must pressure the LAPD to stop their hunt for the whistleblower who exposed the deep veins of racism in the City Council. It must bow to public cries for the expansion of the City Council so that more than 15 members might represent a city of three million residents, and release the iron grip of the police on this city. If Los Angeles is truly to be the Democratic Party’s city on a hill, we must first have a leg to stand on.