LOS ANGELES — The beleaguered Los Angeles City Council installed a new president on Tuesday after a crowd of chanting protesters called for a halt to voting until two city councilors resign for their part at a meeting of 2021 peppered with rude and racist comments.
The selection of Councilman Paul Krekorian to lead the chamber comes amid a week of unrest and public outrage over racist rants that threatened to freeze Council operations and prompted the resignation of former Council Speaker Nury Martinez and a powerful labor leader who also attended Private Meeting 2021, Ron Herrera.
Krekorian, the unanimous choice of 10 council members who attended a virtual meeting, the minimum needed for a quorum to conduct business, said it was time for the city to start closing the gaps and rebuilding trust. in government.
He noted that the election of a Council President is usually a time of celebration, but instead, Los Angeles faces “one of the toughest times a city has ever seen.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement that he would work with Krekorian and the Council “to help heal the wounds caused by the hate speech of the few.”
The council has also taken preliminary steps that could reshape the way government works in the country’s second most populous city. One proposal will explore expanding the number of Council seats, now set at 15. A second would revise how the city adjusts Council district boundaries once a decade to account for changes in population, officially known as redistricting, who played in fury on the private meeting.
The uproar was sparked by a leaked recording of racist comments from a nearly year-old meeting, which also provided an unvarnished look at the city’s racial rivalries. Those involved in the private meeting spent much of the time discussing how to safeguard Latino political power when redrawing council district boundaries.
The California Legislative Black Caucus said the recording “reveals an appalling effort to decentralize black voices during the critical redistricting process.”
Martinez stepped down last week, but two city councilors who attended the meeting have so far resisted widespread calls for them to step down, including from President Joe Biden.
Council members Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo did not attend Tuesday’s virtual meeting.
Shortly after the meeting began, Los Angeles police in riot gear confronted screaming protesters outside the entrance to City Hall on Tuesday, demanding that the meeting be postponed until the two resign advisers.
The protest of about 50 people took place outside a door of City Hall, although the Council is meeting virtually with only the acting president and staff inside the chambers. The demonstrators chanted “No resignations, no meeting!” Police pushed back the supported protesters who retreated across the street without incident.
On the leaked recording, Martinez makes racist remarks about a white councilman’s black son and other rude comments. De Leon and Cedillo did not object or join in the offensive banter.
Last week, protesters crowded the council chambers and angrily called on councilors to resign. Those complaints continued unabated during Tuesday’s virtual meeting, as a long list of speakers called on the Council to suspend work until de Leon and Cedillo step down.