On Oct. 9, 2022, a secret recording of a private conversation between some of Los Angeles’s most powerful political figures – including Nury Martinez, then-President of the LA City Council and the first Latina to reach that post – brought to light some of the most painful issues faced and often ignored within Latino communities, including anti-Black sentiment, colorism and outright racism.
Growing up in Highland Park, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, Dr. Fernando Guerra was no stranger to understanding politics and issues that arise in the city. After high school, Dr. Guerra attended the University of Southern California, where he received his bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Political Science. He furthered his education by earning his master’s degree and doctorate of philosophy in Political Science at the University of Michigan. Dr. Guerra is the founding director of LMU’s Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles (StudyLA), which opened in 1996 in reaction to 1992 LA/Rodney King uprisings. Riots. The undergraduate center focuses on public opinion research on LA. StudyLA has been researching groups in LA, such as Latinos, to further understand the issues they face in the city and to help effect social change.
The city government is relying on one particular department and its leader to focus on maintaining and strengthening the city’s diversity, equity and accountability, the Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department. You can call it the LA Civil Rights (department) for short; and its main goals are to reduce bias, hate crimes and injustices. Capri Maddox was named as the Executive Director of LA Civil Rights in June 2020. “If there is a government start-up, it is us,” Maddox told CALÓ NEWS. “We are new, but we are here to serve all of what LA is. We have a very diverse staff. We want to represent the diversity of Los Angeles.”
KPCC/LAist promised during the election that they would not stop paying attention to voters’ concerns once the ballots were counted. Now they’re asking Angelenos to fill out a 5-minute survey to let them know what feels most urgent as Bass takes office. The responses will help KPCC/LAist set the agenda for their reporting in the year ahead and help them hold the new mayor and city council accountable to top concerns. They’ll also share the survey results widely, including with everyone who responded and with organizations such as CALÓ NEWS.
Ongoing efforts to push de León out of office in LA turned into a physical confrontation on Friday, December 9, at a toy giveaway and Christmas tree lighting event in Lincoln Heights. While de León says he was assaulted, others say he was the aggressor. As police launch an investigation, community leaders continue to call for his resignation.
Kevin De León has served as the LA City council member for District 14 since 2020 and said his resignation is not an option. “I have a moral obligation to my constituency, to give them a voice,” he told Smiley. But for Henry Perez, associate director of Inner City Struggle, a social justice non-profit organization in CD-14, de León no longer represents the community of the Eastside.
If there is a lesson to be learned from the recent racist controversy that has rocked Los Angeles, it is that we need new Latino leadership on the City Council. Nury Martinez has resigned. Ron Herrera, the leader of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, who also was part of the racist conversation, resigned. City Council Members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon, who were part of the racist dialogue, have refused to resign. We need Latino leaders who want to build up our community and also support the diverse and working people of Los Angeles. We need leaders who won’t condone or stay silent when bigoted and racist comments are made.
It’s been two weeks since the nation’s second-largest city was overshadowed by the audio recording that captured openly crude and racist remarks involving former Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, LA Labor Federation president, Ron Herrera, and councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo. It is still unknown who recorded the private conversation that took place last October while discussing the redrawing of districts. CALÓ NEWS has gathered important updates and events that have occurred and been brought to life amidst the content of the audio, which was first published by the LA Times.
The audio leak comes one month before the city election, where multiple council seats are sought, including the mayor’s position. “We hope this new election will spark a movement holding our local politicians accountable and having them be more transparent and honest in their work,” says Luis López Reséndiz. Following the news of Nury Martinez and city council members, CALÓ NEWS recently spoke with Luis López Reséndiz, CIELO’s director of the center of language and power department, to understand the feelings within the Indigenous and Latino communities after the leak in-depth.
CALÓ NEWS spoke with Latinos on the street to get their unfiltered reactions and demands in the wake of the Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León scandal surrounding racial epithets and hate speech. Latinos are, indeed, upset and ready for big changes.
To Nury: I don’t know why you felt the need to disparage a defenseless little 8-year-old Black boy. You were in a position to truly help your people and mine. The allyship between Black and Brown Angelinos was growing. But once you indicated that only white kids are entitled to do what children do, a lot of doors were being slammed from View Park to East LA.
The Latino Media Collaborative hosted the organization’s inaugural Latino Media Summit on September 22 in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a Mexican-American museum and cultural center, was home to the summit and the launch of the CALÓ NEWS website. CALÓ NEWS is a site dedicated to the coverage of Latinos, written for English-speaking audiences in LA and California. It is also a news initiative of LMC, which began 25 weeks ago as a weekly newsletter.