Los Angeles City Council candidate Joe Bray-Ali has apologized for a 2008 YouTube video in which he makes derogatory and stereotyping remarks about Mexicans.
The video appears on a Bray-Ali YouTube page. Holding his baby in his lap, Bray-Ali, who is of multiracial descent but not Latino, looks at the camera and says, “Dear Mexican. I’d like to know why all my neighbors think the doorbell is a car horn. They wake up my baby.”
Below the video is text that reads, “Why do some of my neighbors think that their car’s horn is a doorbell? The Asians, whites and other groups I live near don’t honk to tell their friends they have arrived. What is up with the Mexicans?”
Bray-Ali’s campaign manager, Michael Atkins, told City News Service the video was old and a relic of the First District challenger’s youth.
“Joe apologizes. He says the comment was stupid and it’s amazing how social media can remind of the mistakes of youth. This was nine years ago,” Atkins said.
Atkins noted that the line was once used as a joke by Latino comedian George Lopez.
The video surfaced after Bray-Ali, 37, sent out a statement accusing First District incumbent Councilman Gil Cedillo of failing to denounce an anti- immigrant slur yelled at Bray-Ali during a debate on Monday, when someone in the audience said, “Go back to India.”
Bray-Ali has an Indian father, and is also of Hungarian, Irish and Jewish descent. He is challenging Cedillo for his seat and the runoff election is scheduled for May 16.
Cedillo, 63, is Latino and claimed he did not hear the comment yelled at Bray-Ali during the debate.
“My campaign has already stated that I denounce the comments that were made at Monday night’s debate. I did not hear what was said, or I would have done so immediately. I know from personal experience how hateful remarks can hurt. That is why I would like Mr. Bray-Ali to explain remarks he made on a YouTube video on March 9, 2008,” Cedillo said in an email to City News Service, which included a link to the video.
The audience at the debate largely booed the statement about India. Video of the debate showed that Cedillo was taking notes at the time and it was not clear if he heard the person. Bray-Ali claimed the statement came from a Cedillo supporter.
“Go Back to India” was shouted two days ago, before Cedillo stopped short of apologizing today, and hid behind his campaign in the meantime,” Atkins said Wednesday.
Cedillo is one of the loudest critics on the City Council of President Donald Trump’s aggressive policies on immigration.
“My opponent condemns Trump for divisive statements, but is silent on his supporters’ bigoted attacks. I am asking for my council member to personally disavow this rhetoric, and for him to denounce his supporters’ comments for me to `Go back to India,”‘ Bray-Ali said in his statement.
“I have known Gilbert Cedillo for 25 years, and my family has stood by him through good times and bad. He is not a racist, and he must stop this behavior before it leads to the same type of attacks we saw at Trump rallies.”
Monday’s debate featured a rowdy crowd, with audience members frequently yelling at the candidates as they spoke. It was held at the Central American Resource Center in MacArthur Park.
Bray-Ali forced Cedillo into a runoff when the councilman failed to get the required 50 percent in the March 7 primary, falling just short with 49.34 percent of the vote, about 140 votes less than he needed. Both candidates are Democrats.
Bray-Ali, a bicycle activist and former bike shop owner, finished with 37.97 percent of the vote.
Although he lacks any experience in elected government, Bray-Ali’s campaign received a boost before the primary when he received the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times, and last week he also received the endorsement of City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell.
Cedillo has served on the City Council since 2013 and is seeking a second term after serving in the state Assembly and state Senate.
CD1 includes Highland Park, Westlake, Pico Union, Lincoln Heights, Chinatown, Glassell Park, Echo Park and Mount Washington.
–City News Service