Press Release: AAPI FORCE-EF Statement Regarding LA City Council

Media Contact:

Erica Maria Cheung

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Civic Empowerment Education Fund (AAPI FORCE-EF) condemns the racist, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-LGBTQ+ statements made by Los Angeles City Council members Gil Cedillo, Kevin De León, and Nury Martinez and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. These political leaders abused their powers and undermined the trust of their constituents. We call for the resignation of all members who took part in these conversations, including Councilmember Kevin De León who refuses to step down despite demands from Californians and Angelenos.

Their cruel and bigoted remarks reveal the deep-seated legacies of white supremacy, anti-Blackness, and hate that continue to pit communities of color against each other. We reject public servants who govern with their own self-interests instead of serving all the communities they were elected to represent.

We find it telling that the recorded conversation concerned the City of Los Angeles’ redistricting process. This is the same process that community-based organizations across the city carefully participated in with great intention and in good faith to ensure Los Angeles’ district maps fairly represented all communities of interest. The kind of zero-sum racial horsetrading revealed in the tapes undermines the hard work of the coalitions that we and our Black, Latinx, and Native American peer organizations have built together to ensure the participation of working-class tenants, workers, and young people, and foster solidarity in building a multiracial democracy.

Furthermore, the specific naming and targeting of community organizations and leaders revealed their deep disdain for the grassroots participation that is a cornerstone of democracy. The councilmembers’ cynical attitudes and divisive political agenda harm our ability to empower all communities (AAPIs included) to shape our government.

As a statewide network of grassroots Asian American and Pacific Islander-led community organizations, we support the calls by our colleagues at the California Black Power Network for a full investigation into the role of race in the 2021 City of LA redistricting process and any voter suppression that may have occurred. We also support their call for the creation of a truly independent redistricting commission for the City of Los Angeles, and an investigation into other actions by those City Councilmembers that may have been driven by racial animus.

Statements from our Los Angeles-based leaders:

"We are in solidarity with our Black, Brown, Indigenous, AAPI, LGBTQ, and marginalized communities. Our issues are interconnected, and we believe in a better way – a society built by multiracial coalitions on the values of equity, inclusivity, and diversity. We deserve better elected officials and labor leaders who strive for and uphold these principles, not motivated by personal and political gain. When we come together for justice and accountability, we can begin to heal.”

– Aquilina Soriano Versoza, Executive Director of Pilipino Workers Center and Pilipino Action Center

“Angelenos and Californians deserve leaders who represent all of their constituents—multiracial communities of people who live, work, and raise their families alongside each other and depend on each other. The comments made by the LA City councilmembers and labor leader Ron Herrera reveal a blatant disregard for the people they represent, especially those who continue to be systematically disempowered. We call out their divisive, power-hungry, and unacceptable behavior. Our city demands to be represented by leaders who care for us. Enough is enough.”

– Lisa Fu, Executive Director of California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative

Alongside our partners and allies, AAPI FORCE-EF centers the voices of working-class people who want to make California a better place for our families and loved ones to live. Together, we demand the resignation of all LA City Councilmembers involved in this unacceptable backroom conversation. We demand a more just and transparent redistricting process that does not succumb to the scheming of self-interested politicians. We will continue to build progressive political power alongside Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities throughout the state to transform our government and elect leaders who care for all our communities.

In solidarity,

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