By Lisa Collins
“You stole our vote” was the chant from a crowd of fifty Tenth council district residents, members of the faith community and supporters of suspended City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas to members of the L.A. City Council as they approached the parking entrance at City Hall in advance of the council meeting.
Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Curren Price and Mike Bonin were cheered as the entered the parking structure following their support of Ridley-Thomas, who was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and who has since pled not guilty to all of the charges.
“We’re gathered because we are outraged and disillusioned by the vote of the city council last week and we felt that we needed to say something to express our disdain,” said Pastor Norman Johnson of First New Christian Fellowship Baptist Church. “Suspending Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas disenfranchised his district and empowered the City Controller to withhold his salary and benefits and he has a momentous struggle ahead of him. To do that is just unconscionable.
“We want him to have his day in court,” Johnson continued. “We do not want him tried in the media. We do not want them to appeal to the court of public opinion. That’s all we’re seeking.”
Rev. K.W. Tulloss described the suspension as a “political hit job.’
“It’s ironic that Nury Martinez, who introduced the motion— wasn’t suspended when she was under investigation,” he said. “And Kevin de Leon was named in an FBI probe investigating whether or not he violated campaign rules several years ago.
“As Rev. James Lawson has said, there are some racial overtones to what’s happening here.”
SCLC President and Pastor William Smart —who lives in the Tenth District—agreed.
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Footage from protest can be viewed here.