Power to the people!!!
Protesters gathered outside Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday. Credit: Lauren Justice for The New York Times.
We took a significant chunk of our staff meeting on Tuesday to talk about what was happening at the LA City Council. As many in the city, we were all disheartened by the behavior of our elected leaders. For those in such powerful roles to exhibit deep hate for many of us that they govern, in all our amazing diversity, was truly shocking!
What was almost more shocking for me was the extraordinary city council session that day. I was so grateful that I had a meeting that ended in enough time to watch a portion of it in real time. People of every race made the trek to city hall and took over. Rather than a racial divide, it seems as if the ugly conversation actually has unified us in our disgust!
It was incredible to watch people representing so many facets of our multiplicity - queer, straight, latino, black, white, indigenous Oaxacans and others from across the globe – come to together to execute a "mob" takeover. With one voice, they chanted for the three involved council people to resign and forcing the two that were present, DeLeon and Cedillo, to get up and leave the room. (Martinez gave us another window into her tarnished character by taking a "leave of absence" just in time to avoid being held publicly accountable). Power to the People!
The crowd only became silent when Mike Bonin, the "anti-Martinez," got up and spoke of his pain as a prime target of the hateful words; but also more significantly of his love for his family, as a gay married man with a black child, and for the racially diverse roster of supporters who reached out to him in this difficult time. In that moment, he reflected everything we relish about this crazy, messy, mixed up place we call home and one of my favorite Martin Luther King quotes:
"Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
In our staff conversation, we agreed that the silver lining in this situation was the love that was on display in that meeting, and the power unleashed as a result. People of many races and ethnicities showed up because they love our city and don't condone racism in any form. At LA Commons, we see an opportunity to leverage the awful revelations to cultivate even more of a "common" identity as a source of strength to come together to address the challenging problems that face us.
In fact, this is what our Creating Our Next LA Movement is all about - giving people a chance to make visible their vision for Los Angeles and avenues to become involved in making it a reality.
We have just been given a gift, the curtain peeled back on the limits of elective leadership. If we want to move our city forward, we cannot rely on anyone but ourselves and the love we have for each other as the foundation of the movement for change.