Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Wednesday called out an activist coalition allied with Black Lives Matter, claiming the organization is mainly comprised of Caucasians who reside in luxury homes in affluent neighborhoods.
Villanueva singled out the group, called People’s City Council-L.A., during an Instagram Live broadcast focused on his incremental plan to clear the Venice Beach boardwalk of homeless encampments. The coalition is part of a larger progressive alliance that has condemned the department’s strategy for addressing the county’s transient population, accusing Villanueva of ordering “an armed displacement” while using “fascist rhetoric” to “intimidate and harass unhoused people.”
The sheriff began the livestream by saying the People’s City Council “is also known as the white millionaires’ people’s city council,” adding, “apparently the people they represent is a very exclusive group, very elite.”
Villanueva is up for re-election next year, and the People’s City Council and their allies have vowed to oust him from office. They accuse Villanueva of being a member of an alleged secret, criminal “gang” of tattooed Latino sheriff’s deputies based out of the East Los Angeles sheriff’s station known as the “Banditos.”
Some deputies have reportedly claimed all members of the Banditos are inked with a mustachioed skeleton donning a sombrero and a bandolier of bullets and carrying a pistol. The activists have suggested Villanueva is hiding tattoos on his body that would show he is affiliated with the suspected deputy gang.
During Wednesday’s broadcast, Villanueva addressed those accusations.
“Since the People’s City Council is mostly white people from the Westside of town who live in very expensive mansions, I think you need to put your money down,” said Villanueva. “Let’s create a big fund, and you pay into that fund, and let’s see if I have those tattoos that you think I have. By all means, put your money where your mouth is. Let’s put it down there. All right?”
Villanueva says “the People’s City Council is mostly white people (wrong) from the west side of town (wrong) who live in very expensive mansions (so wrong lmao)”… this is absolutely unhinged @LACoSheriff and easily disprovable.
Why would anyone believe a damn thing you say? pic.twitter.com/QRgHU6y60f
— People’s City Council – Los Angeles (@PplsCityCouncil) June 10, 2021
People’s City Council reacted to Villanueva’s challenge on social media, describing the sheriff’s broadcast as “absolutely unhinged,” and said his claims about its organizers are “easily disprovable.”
Villanueva’s comments came the day after 91% of L.A. County Democratic Party delegates voted to approve a resolution calling for the sheriff’s resignation. People’s City Council claimed victory after the tally, saying progressive organizers “whipped votes” and “worked behind the scenes to push this through.” The resolution was billed as “standing in solidarity with the family of Andres Guardado,” an 18-year-old man who was fatally shot by deputies last June.
People’s City Council said Villanueva “is actively engaged in the cover up” of the shooting death, claiming Guardado was killed by a sheriff’s deputy attempting to be initiated into another alleged “gang” based out of the Compton sheriff’s station called the Executioners.
Villanueva said he would not resign, accusing the “elites of the party” of “exploiting a tragedy.” He said he’s been “cheered on” by constituents throughout the county for taking a more proactive approach to homelessness.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
Leaders of L.A.’s progressive organizing scene are pushing back against Villanueva and other local elected officials they say are demonizing homeless people through hardline policies.
They have also targeted Councilman Joe Buscaino, a Democrat, who launched his mayoral run on Monday. He advocated for banning homeless encampments on beaches, in parks, and on sidewalks. The event was cut short after a homeless woman in possession of a knife was allegedly seen a few feet away from Buscaino after he made the remarks. A witness claimed the transient said, “I’m going to start killing people.” She was arrested on suspicion of carrying a concealed dirk or dagger and released on her own recognizance later in the day. Progressive activists said the threat was exaggerated, and the woman was set up.
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