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PRESS STATEMENT: Martinez, Cedillo, and De Leon Must Resign; Broken Council System Must be Reformed


Contact: John Dobard, Managing Director of Policy and Programs (

LOS ANGELES – The shockingly anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and racist discussion among three members of the Los Angeles City Council, revealed yesterday in leaked audio, requires the strongest possible condemnation and the strongest possible action. The conversation between Council President Martinez and Councilmembers De Leon and Cedillo was steeped in anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and made clear that they think nothing of pitting L.A.’s communities against each other to protect their personal political power.

They also did so while gratuitously insulting a colleague’s two-year-old son in viciously racist terms. It is obvious they lack the character and credibility to lead a multi-racial, multi-ethnic city confronting a host of challenges.

They must immediately resign to allow Los Angeles to move forward without the distraction their failures of leadership have created.

“Whatever promise these electeds of color may have represented to all of us in the broader fight for justice is now broken,” said John Kim, President and CEO of Catalyst California (formerly Advancement Project California). “The only path forward for Los Angeles, the only way we truly break this pattern of corrupt leadership, is to hold all our representatives accountable – swiftly and without equivocation.”

It is also obvious that there is an urgent need to redesign the underpinnings of a flawed council system. Structural reforms must start with giving the city’s redistricting commission true independence and the power to draw district lines free of the self-serving and racist motivations of flawed politicians. The number of seats on the council must also be increased so that councilmembers are closer to the communities they represent rather than seeing them as chits to be traded.

As we have all so recently experienced at the national level, for amoral politicians there is much power to be gained by dividing Americans against each other. Our city will never succeed if it remains a battleground of competing constituencies, rather than coming together to focus on our greatest challenges.

Fortunately, Angelenos are more unified than those who purport to be our leaders. With one voice, we say: resign.


Catalyst California (formerly Advancement Project California) advocates for racial justice by building power and transforming public systems. We partner with communities of color, conduct innovative research, develop policies for actionable change, and shift money and power back into our communities.