On the evening of Oct. 10, L.A. City Councilmember Curren Price held a candlelight vigil to bring healing to the City of L.A. and demand the immediate resignations of L.A. City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo. It was a beautiful gesture brought out of extreme darkness.
The event was held in response to the leaked audio release featuring the three Latino Councilmembers who were caught saying racist and cruel statements against Councilmember Mike Bonin and his young son, who is Black. Unaware of being recorded, the Councilmembers alongside Ron Herrera, then-head of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, who has since resigned, spent their hours-long closed door meeting spewing anti-Black, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-Indigenous hate speech, disenfranchising some of our most marginalized communities.
“Forgiveness requires more than an apology filled with empty words, and this moment demands bold and swift action,” said Councilmember Price during the vigil which included a coalition of Black, Brown, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Indigenous and LGBTQ+ leaders and community members. “There is no question, these councilmembers must resign NOW.”
More than 100 people attended the gathering at Los Angeles City Hall, which included California State Assemblymembers Mike Gipson, Wendy Carrillo, and Mike Fong, as well as Councilwoman Heather Hutt. Local organizations also showed their support, including members of Concerned Citizens of South Central Los Angeles (CCSCLA), Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) Action, Comunidades Indígenas en liderazgo (CIELO), Stonewall Young Democrats, The Big House, Resilient Agency, Volunteers of America, Community Development Technologies (CDTech), and ourselves, South Central United. As part of the special display of unity, we were entertained by Banda Regional Oaxaqueña.
The disgraced Councilmembers’ actions have since spurred local, statewide and national calls from top elected officials demanding their immediate resignations. On Monday, Nury Martinez resigned from her post as L.A. City Council President – one of the most powerful positions in government. She has since taken a leave of absence from her elected position as Councilwoman. De León and Cedillo have only offered empty apologies, refusing to take accountability for their roles in the scandal.
All eyes are on the Council’s next moves, which includes who will become the next L.A. City Council President. There is a clear standout choice and that is Councilmember Curren Price. As a lifelong public servant and coalition builder, he has been on the front lines fighting for social justice his entire career, which spans nearly three decades on the California State Assembly, California State Senate and now L.A. City Council.
During such unprecedented times, we must lean on experienced and proven leaders capable of uniting and moving us forward to create lasting change. Angelenos need courageous leaders that are committed to a progressive agenda and one that includes serving all constituents with the same care and compassion – no matter the color of their skin.
Over his last two terms, Price has delivered the most progressive pieces of legislation. From the establishment of a Hotel Living Wage to increasing the citywide minimum wage. Another landmark policy that the Councilmember championed is “Ban-the-Box,” which prohibits employers from asking candidates about their conviction history before making them a job offer.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Councilmember Price addressed the urgent needs of his constituents bringing pop-up testing sites and vaccines directly into District 9. He distributed personal protective equipment, organized food drives, as well as mobile clinics at his District Office, churches, local parks, senior facilities, and public housing sites. On the Council, Price led the fight for Hazard Pay, which provided an extra $5 an hour to employees at grocery stores and drugstores in Los Angeles during the pandemic.
His longstanding commitment to protect working-poor families is evident in all of the initiatives he has signed on to. Most recently, Price was the original author of L.A.’s $40 million Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program, the largest of its kind in the nation. He has also been a key figure in the Reimaging Public Safety movement and has been a vocal leader on initiatives that shift nonviolent calls for service to unarmed, non-law enforcement agencies.
In an effort to address the homelessness crisis, Councilmember Price has dedicated significant resources strategically focusing efforts on initiatives and programs that will help the unhoused population. Price has built among the most in terms of shelter beds, permanent supportive housing, and affordable units in his District with more than 3,500 built or in the pipeline.
As the Chair of the Economic Development and Jobs Committee, Price has ushered in more than $4 billion of investment into CD 9 alone. This includes historic projects like the Banc of California soccer stadium, restoration of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, currently under construction. All of these major projects benefit the community by bringing in new jobs through Project Labor Agreements (PLA) and local hire requirements, inclusion of minority- and women-owned businesses, job training, among other community benefits.
In an area where a third of his constituency is under 18-years-old, Price has delivered more than $60 million in improvements across every park and recreation center in the District. This includes the addition of several new community parks expected to be completed by the end of his third term.
Councilman Price has never been afraid to stand up and do what is right for The People. I hope the L.A. City Council will recognize that he is the right person for this very important role. Without the right leadership, our City may never truly heal from this trauma.
Darrell Blanton is the executive director of South Central United.