On Thursday, FOX 11 and the Los Angeles Times teamed up for a live town hall discussion called "LA in Crisis: the Call for Change." In the town hall, we went around different parts of Los Angeles to hear from concerned residents. This comes as the City Hall scandal ended with Council member Nury Martinez announcing her resignation and two others, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, being asked by the community to follow her in stepping down.
In "LA in Crisis: the Call for Change," FOX 11's Koco McAboy was in Leimert Park, Gina Silva in Koreatown and Phil Shuman in Studio City to hear from Angelenos and their reaction to City Council scandal.
The common themes from our viewers were that Angelenos believe de León should resign, accountability is necessary and Martinez's apology was not enough. Most of the live audience members raised their hands on live TV when asked if de León needs to step down from his post as City Council member.
Kevin de León's apology
FOX 11 was joined by Council Member Mike Bonin, whose family was the direct target in the leaked audio involving his three City Council colleagues. Earlier in October, a leaked audio revealed Martinez of using racist language in an attack on fellow Council member Mike Bonin's 2-year-old son.
In Thursday's town hall, Bonin confirmed to FOX 11's Elex Michaelson and Marla Tellez that de León sent a voicemail apologizing to the 11th District Council member. Bonin said de León's apology came Sunday morning, a couple of hours after the Los Angeles Times broke the story on the leaked audio. Bonin said de León's gesture felt heart hearted.
"He didn't make any gesture of apology to my son. He didn't apologize for the blatantly anti-black racism on there," Bonin said of de León.
The Oaxacan communities of Los Angeles were not shy about the pain they felt following Martinez's comments in the leaked audio.
FOX 11's Gina Silva spoke with Daisy Gutierrez, who has Oaxacan ties. In an emotional interview, Gutierrez felt Martinez's comment betrayed Angelenos' trust, especially the minority communities in Koreatown, Westlake and Pico Union.
"I feel the hurt of the community that we trusted you. I feel devastated," Gutierrez told Silva.
Calls for change
FOX 11's Koco McAboy was in Leimert Park as she spoke with community members for what needs to happen in Los Angeles moving forward. Tara Perry, of Hyde Park, said it's time that LA city leaders should start accommodating the needs of the Black community.
"Black Americans here in LA constantly coalition with other groups to help them get their political power," Perry said. "It's time for those coalitions to work in reverse and prioritize the needs of Black Americans, Black Angeles, specifically."
Justin Jenkins, of Crenshaw, is calling for a complete culture change.
"Just be able to strengthen just independent parties so we can hold these elected officials accountable," Jenkis said. "There needs to be no opportunity in redemption either."
Roubaun Walker, of Hollywood, said African-American vote is under attack nationally, state by state.
"Now, we know locally and we need to be addressed and we need to maintain our power, despite all the racist comments that are going on today."
Noemi Lujan Perez, of Leimert Park, was not sold on Martinez's apology. She called the now-former City Council member's gesture to the public "insufficient" and a the decision to resign as a "copout."
"She needs to come back to the table and apologize to all of the communities she's offended and really have be addressed by the African-American community. Hear the hurt, firsthand," Perez said.
How did we get to this point?
Redistricting was the topic at the center of the controversial recordings. For historical context, District 4 in 2011 covered Griffith Park, Hollywood Hills and some of North Hollywood. Mayor Eric Garcetti represented those neighborhoods at the time, but fast-forward 10 years later, the lines were one again redrawn – taking out North Hollywood. In 2021, District 4 lost Larchmont and Hancock Park, but gaining Reseda and Encino. These changes have lead to neighbors, businesses, schools and communities sliced apart.
LA Times' Ben Oreskes broke down how redistricting works and what makes the process so contentious.
"Basically what you heard on that tape is a conversation that is about the frustration over redistricting. And the reason they were frustrated is because the members, [Marqueece Harris-Dawson] and Bonin as well, everyone got to choose who was on the commission," Oreskes explained. "It wasn't independent in the sense that the people who had chosen, who were on the commission, they thought they were acting in their interest, not so much the interests of the people of the district, necessarily."