LOS ANGELES (CN) — A candidate for Los Angeles City Council, under fire for comments he made online, faces increasing pressure to quit the race after losing endorsements from a city councilman, an Eastside Democratic group and the Los Angeles Times.
Joe Bray-Ali lost the support of Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who had previously backed him. The Times rescinded its endorsement of a candidate it had called “refreshingly energetic and well-prepared on the issues.”
Bray-Ali created a firestorm after comments he made at channels at the uncensored forum Voat were reported by the LAist. One channel used a racist epithet and the other mocked the overweight and obese. Using an online handle, Bray-Ali commented in both channels.
In rescinding its endorsement, the Times wrote: “The revelations are so deeply disturbing — raising serious questions about both his judgment and his character — that The Times has re-evaluated its original position. For the first time in recent memory, the editorial board is officially rescinding its endorsement.”
O’Farrell said: “I am deeply disappointed by his highly insensitive comments in online forums that breed hate and dehumanize already marginalized communities. People that I love and care about are hurt by these comments. There is no place for this type of speech anywhere, especially in the City of Angels.”
The East Area Progressive Democrats also withdrew their support for Bray-Ali, who is running against Councilman Gilbert Cedillo in the First District, which includes Chinatown and Westlake. Cedillo is an outspoken critic of President Trump and has brought immigration issues facing Angelenos to the forefront since Trump took office.
With the election just weeks away, L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin affirmed his support for Cedillo.
“I think that the shameful conduct that he’s engaged in certainly suggests that he’s not fit for this office,” Galperin said of Bray-Ali.
Richard Zaldivar of The Wall Las Memorias Project urged Bray-Ali to suspend his campaign. “We don’t need a replicate of Donald Trump in the First Council District,” Zaldivar said.
At a Thursday morning news conference announced by Cedillo’s office, Galperin and members of the LGBTQ community gathered at the Placita Olvera Kiosk in downtown. They charged Bray-Ali with making transphobic, racist and fat-shaming comments.
In the year-and-a-half-old comments at Voat, Bray-Ali appeared to criticize transgender people for undergoing gender reassignment surgery, writing that it did not “seem like something worthy of praise.”
He also commented on an image depicting two black women fighting.
“The clinch is where the fight happens when girls fight — they go straight for the hair pull/clinch,” he wrote. “These girls actually have a slick advantage of the weave ejecting during emergencies. If you actually had long hair you’d be fucked vs. a chick with a weave!”
The candidate, who used to be a blogger, left comments on Los Angeles-based websites under the name ubrayj02, a handle he has used on MySpace, Flickr, and Youtube for more than a decade, according to the LAist.
Bray-Ali told the Times he had visited an internet forum called Voat to “track” racist behavior, regretted his comments and said they did not reflect his values.
He also called the site “reprehensible.”
“Many of the things that I wrote, I didn’t even believe them when I wrote them,” Bray-Ali told the newspaper. “I was trying to have an argument with racists online. I found a place where they go and I tried to spark an argument with them.”
Galperin said Thursday that the candidate’s excuses did not seem “terribly believable.”
“I don’t know what’s in somebody else’s heart or somebody else’s mind, but I do know what it is that has been said, and it’s deeply offensive,” Galperin said.
At the Thursday news conference, transgender community advocate Justine Gonzalez said the comments struck a personal chord and that she was “hurt” by them.
“I’d like him to take true accountability for what he’s done,” Gonzalez said after the news conference. “All I’ve heard so far are excuses and the whole ‘nobody’s perfect’ spiel. I think he needs to say that this is a serious issue. He has to admit that sharing opinions and views like this are problematic.”