Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

With LA City Council in Crisis, What’s Next for the Movement?

The Los Angeles City Council continues to be in a political crisis following the leaked racist remarks of its members. How should the Left, the working class, and oppressed of LA respond?

Facebook Twitter Share

A leaked conversation of Los Angeles city council members using racist slurs during a meeting to discuss redistricting has opened up a challenge to the ruling institution of the city. The protest movement that sprung into action following the leaked audio recordings has helped create a politically dynamic situation that has exacerbated the political crisis and opened up the council to wide scrutiny. 

The call for the resignation of city council members Nury Martinez — who has already resigned — Kevin De Leon, and Gil Cedillo have been widespread, and even President Biden has urged them to step down. Now, the California State Attorney General has launched an investigation into the council’s redistricting process. How far the movement goes and what concessions it wins will depend on how it organizes and wields its power. 

Expand the Fight and Power of the Movement

While the movement’s main demand of De Leon and Cedillo resigning hasn’t yet been met, the city council has had to make some significant changes. It voted to strip De Leon and Cedillo, who have yet to resign, from all of their committee assignments. It also voted to establish an independent commission to be in charge of the redistricting process. City council even voted to expand the number of seats on city council in an attempt to make it “more representative”. 

These are signs of the political instability the city council faces in response to the public backlash the protest movement represents. The movement now needs to have strategic discussions about the best ways to build off that momentum and go more on the offensive. 

The movement should think about holding public assemblies at the protest to democratically vote on and discuss demands people believe would improve the lives of the working class and oppressed in Los Angeles. There should also be a discussion about demanding the repeal of city laws that punish the homeless and renters like Ordinance 41.18 or the Ellis and Costa-Hawkins Act. There should also be discussion about the struggle public sector workers are facing.

The public sector unions have already joined the call for De Leon and Cedillo to resign. In fact, they were also able to force Ron Herrera — who was also part of the meeting with Martinez, De Leon, and Cedillo — to step down as President of the LA County Federation of Labor. Teamsters Local 399’s statement demanding Herrera’s resignation specifically called out “the plans to create further division among working families in Los Angeles.” The movement should call on labor to stand united with the movement, and not only take action to force De Leon and Cedillo out of city council, but to fight for demands of LA’s working class and oppressed communities. 

The city runs on the labor of public sector workers. If these workers went out on strike, LA city council would truly be unable to function — they would not be able to simply ignore or circumvent it.  As a starting point, labor should organize, together with the protest movement, a big march against racism and for unity of the multiethnic and multigendered working class. 

Key Tasks for the Movement

In order to harness the full power of the working class and oppressed, the movement has to deal with three obstacles. First, it must recognize the role of the Democrats as the graveyard of social movements. While many of the Democrats, both locally and nationally, have renounced the council members’ racist comments, they fail to renounce and fight against the racist institutions like the police, prisons, and the military that do physical harm to people of color both here and abroad on a daily basis. In fact, President Biden, who has his own history of racist remarks, is a steadfast ally of the police, military, and prison industrial complex. 

Secondly, the movement must recognize the stifling character top leadership of unions and non-profits play in the movement. Not only do these top leaders act bureaucratically, but they prioritize maintaining their relationship to the Democratic Party, which means they are never prepared to organize the type of struggles we need to win our demands. 

Finally, the movement must recognize that as a consequence of the first and second points that the movement must seek to build an independent organization of the working class and oppressed, free from the influence of bureaucrats within the labor movement and the non-profits, as well as the Democrat and Republican parties, the two parties of capital. Such an organization has to function democratically and be a place where intense and principled discussion and debate take place. The decisions the organization takes has to be voted on by the members themselves, ensuring that the movement is in charge of itself and truly independent. The public assemblies at the protests and encampments can be the basis for such an organization. Sectors of labor should join these assemblies and call for the formation of independent organizations of union members to fight against racism, like LA Labor Against Racism.

Facebook Twitter Share

Julia Wallace

Julia is a contributor for Left Voice and has been a revolutionary socialist for over ten years. She served on the South Central Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles and is a member of SEIU Local 721. Julia organizes against police brutality and in defense of LGBTQ, women, and immigrants' rights. When she's not actively fighting the patriarchy, white supremacy and/or capitalism, she enjoys many things: she loves Thundercat, plays ultimate frisbee and is a founder of the team, "Black Lives Hammer."

United States

Protesters carrying Palestinian flags march on a street in front of a line of cops

Activists, Including Left Voice and Detroit Will Breathe Members, Arrested at Protest of Biden in Detroit, Free All Arrested and Drop All Charges

Detroit police brutally arrested activists who were protesting outside of Biden's speech to the NAACP.

Left Voice

May 19, 2024
Tents at the Rutgers University in NJ during the Palestine encampment in May, 2024

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024
Pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA in May, 2024.

“The Working Class has the Power to Stop this Genocide”: Interview with a UAW 4811 Rank and Filer

On Thursday May 15, 48,000 UAW Academic workers voted to authorize a strike, the largest academic workers union in the country to do so. Left Voice interviewed UAW 4811 member Peter Ross about what sparked this historic vote, and the labor movement’s fight for Palestine

Julia Wallace

May 16, 2024

Nakba Day: CUNY Faculty Stand Against Repression and for Palestine

On Nakba Day, faculty across different CUNY schools mobilized for Palestine and against the repression of protesters. The actions, organized through an assembly of workers, point toward the solidarity needed to continue and expand the student movement and fight for a free Palestine.


A Russian tank fires toward Kharkiv on the May 10 offensive against Ukraine.

Russia’s Offensive in Ukraine May Be a Turning Point in the War

Russia’s May 10 offensive in Ukraine may be a turning point in the dynamics of the war, and the specter of Ukraine’s defeat is exposing the cracks that divide the Western powers.

Claudia Cinatti

May 21, 2024
Signs and banners at the picket line in front of the UC Santa Cruz in May, 2024. UC student workers are beginning a historic strike for Palestine, against genocide.

University of California Student Workers Begin Historic Political Strike against Repression and Genocide

This week, student and postdoctoral workers at the University of California began a historic strike in response to the brutal, violent repression of students, faculty, and staff protesting for Palestine. The action marks an important escalation of the labor movement’s struggle in defense of Palestine and the right to protest.

Olivia Wood

May 21, 2024

Victory for the UAW at Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga Represents a Potential Turning Point for Labor

Following a year of strong union struggles, a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee has voted to unionize with the UAW. This victory, in the traditionally anti-union South, shows that the terrain of labor struggle in the U.S. is shifting.

Joey Eichler

May 17, 2024
A rally in Brooklyn, people hold up UAW signs

University of California Academic Workers Authorize Strike to Defend the Right to Protest

48,000 workers are one step closer to going on strike to demand that charges and academic sanctions be dropped for the students and faculty who protest the genocide in Palestine and UC’s financial and academic ties to Israel.

Madeleine Freeman

May 16, 2024