CD 9 residents and stakeholders came out in force on Friday to City Hall to have their say at a meeting of the L.A. City Council’s Rules Committee to consider the suspension of Ninth District Councilmember Curren Price following charges of embezzlement.
Noting the significant amount of public interest evidenced in the overflow crowd, City Council President Paul Krekorian reiterated the importance of taking into consideration “as much information as we can to act appropriately for everyone concerned” and evaluating very carefully the real world impacts of any steps taken.
It was a point not lost on SCLC-LA President William Smart, who didn’t want a repeat of a rush to judgement that led to lawsuits from Tenth District stakeholders and Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was suspended within a week of being indicted.
Smart went on to characterize the charges as flimsy while referencing a continued degradation of African American male and female elected officials.
“We’re tired of it,” said And so I would hope that you would, as a body, at least wait until after you come back from your break, and [can] bring a hearing into South L.A.”
Next to speak was Pastor Shep Crawford, senior pastor of the Experience Christian Ministries and chairman of the United We Stand organization.
“If councilman Curren Price is presumed innocent, until proven guilty, that means that you would be suspending an innocent person,” Crawford maintained. “I understand how hard this may be. But if you suspend him, and he’s found innocent, then you would have done him wrong. So, the question is, why suspend? Would you say that because he has lost the trust of the people? Not in CD nine. We’ve done a great job there and suspending him would be suspending us.”
Noted Dr. Jerry Abraham was also among the many who spoke in support of Price noting the transformative work he had done in the community.
“Working with Current Price, we have made sure that over 300,000 people in South Los Angeles had access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines. It’s one example of all the work that Mr. Price has done on behalf of the people within a district where the population is Black and Brown, where we deal with racial tensions and economic turmoil daily, where over half of our community live under the poverty line and twenty percent don’t even have one vehicle.
“We need to send a message to Black and Brown men in our community that you are innocent until proven guilty, and we must believe in that justice system.”
One by one community residents and stakeholders approached the podium—all but one standing in solidarity with Councilmember Price and urging committee members to allow him his due process and most of whom at one point joined in the chant—the Price is right [for CD9]. Neighborhood Council representative Elena Mendez spoke of being surprised to see him joining in to sweep the streets at one of their community cleanups, adding “This man really cares for our community.”
At the end of the day, the committee voted to defer the motion of suspension to their Aug. 25 meeting, while voting 3-0 to approve a second motion allowing for the city to secure further input from Ninth district constituents on Price’s possible suspension and all that it entails.
Following the Rules Committee meeting, Price released the following statement:
“I am pleased that the City Council’s Rules Committee has delayed its vote, as I have not yet had the opportunity to answer the unwarranted charges against me in Court. I hope that the Committee, and the full Council, will extend to me the same presumption of innocence that the law extends to me, and I look forward to proving my innocence.
“Lastly, my sincerest gratitude to the dozens and dozens of neighbors, the young and young at heart, who came out in droves to speak from the heart on all the wonderful work taking place across our community. Your voices mattered and roared like thunder across City Hall today. I’m so unbelievably humble and proud to be your public servant.”