Los Angeles council disrupted by protest amid racism scandal

Police tape put up by protesters blocks the entrance of Los Angeles City Hall, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, in Los Angeles. The demonstrators demanded the city council stop its virtual meeting Tuesday until two of its members resign over racist remarks. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles City Council was forced to recess Wednesday to clear chanting protesters from its chamber, as members were poised to formally rebuke two councilmen and the council’s former president for their involvement in a racism scandal.

A small but noisy group crowded into the main aisle of an otherwise mostly empty chamber, banged water bottles on a lectern, whooped and shouted in what appeared to be an effort to shut down the meeting. They unrolled a large sign calling the council “illegitimate.”

“Justice now!,” they bellowed. “Shut down!”

After multiple warnings to take seats, council leaders called the recess to clear the room.

That led to something of a standoff in which about 20 protesters continued shouting, as police officers watched over the group. Council members earlier had left the room.

Council President Paul Krekorian warned the protesters they would not deter the council’s business. “We will continue to do the work of the people of Los Angeles,” he said.

The scandal began earlier this month with the release of a previously unknown recording of a 2021 private meeting involving then-City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, as well as powerful labor leader Ron Hererra, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. They were captured on tape scheming to protect their political clout in the redrawing of council districts in an hour-long meeting laced with bigoted, crude comments.

Martinez and Herrera have resigned. Cedillo and de León have resisted calls to step down, including from President Joe Biden.