The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to censure council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, as well as former council member Nury Martinez, for racist and inflammatory comments made on a leaked recording.
The vote appeared to mark the first time the city council censured one of its own members – a move that carries no legal weight but adds to public pressure on Cedillo and De León to step down. Martinez resigned two weeks ago.
Police cleared about two dozen protesters – who were shouting and demanding the resignation of the two council members – from the council chambers ahead of the vote. Police issued a dispersal order to clear the room, a tactic typically used to deal with large street protests.
The dramatic events were another sign of how the leaked recording has upset City Hall.
At the same time, some neighborhood leaders in the district of De León called Wednesday’s meeting to defend the council member – support that had yet to be widely seen.
Groups calling for his resignation “don’t know our neighborhood,” said Pamela Marquez of Concerned Neighbors of El Sereno.
“Any action taken for or against Councilman De León must be done at the polling booth by their constituents,” Marquez said.
Under city charter rules passed in 2000, the council – with a two-thirds vote – can pass a resolution of no confidence against members whose actions “constitute a gross breach of high standards of personal conduct and professional”.
The board conducted much of Wednesday’s meeting amid a cacophony of shouting from about two dozen members of the public, who want the board to cancel meetings until De León and Cedillo resign.
Many of those shouting were part of a coalition that held a news event earlier in the morning to call for De León’s resignation. The coalition included Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Union de Vecinos, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and others.
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The city council bylaw allows the subject of the censure request “to make an opening and closing statement, to call witnesses for the defense and to question his accusers,” according to the city council bylaw.
Neither De León nor Cedillo, who have not attended a city council meeting for more than two weeks, were present.
Earlier Wednesday, an ad hoc committee unanimously approved two motions relating to the censure of council members. At that meeting, council member Paul Koretz asked the city attorney advising the council whether the body could censure a city council member who had already resigned, a reference to Martinez.
“It’s not entirely clear,” City Attorney Strefan Fauble said.
California Daily Newspapers