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People’s Action Affiliate Holds L.A. City Council Members to Account for Racist and Antidemocratic Remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C.–People’s Action applauds the groundbreaking journalism of its affiliate GroundGameLA. This week, GroundGame’s citizen newsroom project KNOCK-LA released audio of a secret meeting between L.A. City Council Members Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon, and former L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, in an article reported by KNOCK editor Jon Peltz

This audio, laced with racist comments and a plot to redirect resources away from areas represented by progressive and Black councilmembers ahead of L.A.’s once-in-a-decade redistricting last year, has prompted the resignations of Martinez and Herrera, and a call from California Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate the redistricting process.

“We are so proud of GroundGame and KNOCK-LA for speaking truth to power and holding elected officials to account in this way,” People’s Action Executive Director Sulma Arias said.

People’s Action expresses solidarity with Councilmember Mike Bonin, whose family members were directly attacked with racial slurs in these recordings, as well as their support for Los Angeles’ Black, Indigenous, LGBTQI+, Jewish and Armenian communities, who were also denigrated in the recorded comments.

“If we want a multiracial democracy, we must work for it,” Arias said. “GroundGame and KNOCK do this hard work every day, and show us how to bring daylight into political backrooms and demand an end to corruption.”

“These recordings were made in the context of a small clique of powerful people conspiring to preserve their own power in the face of a rising progressive movement,” said Bill Przylucki, Executive Director of GroundGame LA. “We stand in solidarity with the multiethnic, multilinguistic, multigenerational, multi-gender movement, full of hope and love, that has risen up at City Hall this week to demand justice, accountability, and deep structural change to achieve progress in Los Angeles.”

KNOCK’s release of the city council audio is only the latest success by this upstart newsroom. Founded in 2017 by GroundGame LA as a Medium blog, KNOCK has grown to become a powerful voice in community journalism, at a time when many newsrooms are understaffed and underfunded. Journalist Cerise Castle’s15-part investigation into the infiltration of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) by white supremacist gangs prompted an investigation of the department by the city’s civilian oversight board.

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About People’s Action Institute

Over five decades, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the MAT Act.

We engage in issue campaigns, public education and training to advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice. Our focus now is on deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. 

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