City Council candidate Joe Bray-Ali struck back Wednesday at a group of veterans who called on him to withdraw from the race, saying the attack was politically motivated and based on online comments about flag-burning that the group is taking out of context.
Bray-Ali was already under fire from LGBT groups, civil rights organizations and numerous elected city officials for a series of racist and derogatory statements he made online.
But the group of veterans held a news conference Wednesday in Highland Park, saying they were angered over a 2006 blog post from Bray-Ali in which he wrote, “Let people burn the flag all they want, let ’em put it in their avant- garde art videos smeared in poo, let them destroy it.”
Veteran Mark Quiroz said Bray-Ali was asked by a veteran at a candidate forum on April 19 to apologize for the comments, but he declined.
“He was given the opportunity to apologize in an open forum and he refused to,” said Quiroz, a former member of the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Bray-Ali accused his opponent, City Councilman Gil Cedillo, of being behind the attacks by the veterans.
Bray-Ali also said his comments about the flag were taken out of context because they were in reference to a New Yorker article about a law before the U.S. Senate at the time about flag-burning, and he finished the post by expressing deep patriotism.
The 2006 blog post concluded by stating, “In the U.S., the flag is not the state. The people are the state — their minds and knowledge are the organs that keep our republic alive. Protecting a piece of cloth will do nothing to protect the values that keep this perilous political system running.”
Bray-Ali issued a statement Wednesday, saying, “I find burning of the American flag reprehensible. However, our Constitution allows for certain liberties. It is shameful and a cowardly way to protest, but it is a protected right.”
The candidate also pointed out that Quiroz’s wife, Maggie, filed a police report against his brother, Adam, at a candidate forum on April 17 and said the couple has been targeting him.
According to an L.A. Weekly report about the candidate forum, Adam Bray- Ali was forced to leave the room after audience members shouted at him when Maggie Quiroz accused him of putting his hands on her shoulders and telling her to shut up.
Joe Bray-Ali lost the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times and City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell last week after it was revealed he made online comments in which he used the N-word, called gender reassignment surgery a “shameless excess,” used the word “retard” and made other comments which offended leaders in the LGBT and civil rights communities.
The endorsements had been a significant boost for Bray-Ali, a former bicycle shop owner who has never held political office. Bray-Ali has apologized for those comments.
After losing the endorsements, Bray-Ali decided to come forward with other damaging information about himself, and in a Facebook post admitted to habitually cheating on his wife for years, owing $48,000 in back taxes and committing vandalism.
Bray-Ali is challenging Cedillo in the 1st Council District. Cedillo was forced into the May 16 runoff when he fell just short of the required 50 percent of the vote on March 7, finishing with 49.34 percent to Bray-Ali’s 37.97 percent.
Bray-Ali has vowed to fight through election day even though his comments have been denounced by City Controller Ron Galperin, Equality California, the Courage Campaign and the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network. Seven sitting City Council members have called on him to drop out of the race.
The Los Angeles County Democratic Party also called on Bray-Ali to withdraw from the race.
Bray-Ali’s wife, Susan Wong, defended him on Tuesday in a post on his campaign’s Facebook page.
“I know my husband Josef, and he is a person of integrity. He is caring and inclusive of all people. In this climate, it is so important for people to check the sources and see if true journalism is occurring, or if a misleading headline, and mischaracterizations are occurring — we need to make sure that we critically analyze everything,” Wong said.
—City News Service
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