Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo Should Step Down (Op-Ed)


By: Treneice Helen

On March 3,1991 Rodney Glen King, an unarmed African-American man who was arrested after a high-speed chase on the I-210 for being intoxicated, was beaten by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). A nearby individual, named George Holliday, filmed the incident from his balcony and sent the footage to KTLA. The footage would go on to be viewed worldwide, rocking Los Angeles to its core.

Many people were outraged and demanded to hold the officers accountable. Thirty-one years later we’re here once again with yet another horrific incident that is rocking the City of Los Angeles. To its core. It involved anonymously leaked audio clips in which members of the Los Angeles City Council: then-City Council President Nury Martinez, fellow council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon, and former Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.

You may say how do the two incidents parallel. Let’s explore the facts: Rodney King was physically assaulted by non-Black cops while other fellow officers stood by and watched. Martinez made racist comments against Blacks, Jews, and Oaxacans while her fellow council members, and Ron Herrera, sat silent. While they may have not made some of the remarks, just being at the meeting and not speaking up against the racist comments makes them complicit participants. 

The fact that Martinez called Mike Bonnin’s son a “little monkey” in Spanish further gives us a glimpse of who they are. She knew that they would all understand, and there wouldn’t be any discrepancy on what she said. I am the mother of three African-American men, and to think that anyone would refer to any of them or anyone in our culture as monkeys is upsetting and heartbreaking!

I am also the grandmother of a beautiful Latina granddaughter who says she’s “Blaxican” (Black and Mexican). We have taught her to love and embrace both sides of her heritage. Black and Brown communities have not had the best relationship over the years here in Los Angeles. This racist rhetoric puts a further divide on our communities and could potentially set back any progress that has been made for unity and peace.

There is also an abuse of power. People who seem to be Anti-Black are discussing how to redistrict city maps that could possibly give them a political advantage. This epitomizes systemic racism. In the shocking audio clip we can hear comments being made and I quote “he is with the Blacks” and “Mike Bonnin is the fourth Black City Council Member.”

What comes from the mouth represents what is in the heart, so clearly these feelings have been brewing for quite some time. Minorities have all been hurt by these egregious words, but African-Americans have always suffered the most from racism. I am perplexed by the comments that Martinez and her cohorts made, being that they are minorities themselves.

The fact that Kevin de Leon refuses to resign clearly shows he doesn’t care about the people of Los Angeles or his district. If he really was sorry and cared about his district, he would have stepped down immediately. He is further causing harm and division by staying in office. He claims that he wants to be part of the healing process, but he is part of the problem.

We have not heard from Gil Cedillo which is a cowardly move! Black Lives Matter and the Police Union are both calling for Kevin de Leon’s resignation. When was the last time these two organizations have agreed on anything? This incident has united all of us: Black, Brown, White, Jewish etc. People of Los Angeles are still protesting for the resignation of de Leon and Cedillo.

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