LA Hotel Workers Union and Allies Demand Sheriff Villanueva Resign
Los Angeles, CA: Hundreds of community members, led by UNITE HERE Local 11, held a car caravan and delivered a letter demanding the immediate resignation of Sheriff Alex Villanueva because of his failure to reform the Los Angeles Sheriff Department. Sheriff Villanueva’s refusal to cooperate with an independent investigation of last month’s killing of Andres Guardado by sheriff’s deputies is the last in a dreadful list of malfeasance. The list also includes calling Supervisor Solis a derogatory term and repeatedly blocking internal investigations of deputy misconduct.
UNITE HERE Local 11 was joined by Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles, ACLU SoCal, Justice LA, CLUE, and Check The Sheriff Coalition and more than 60 other labor unions and community groups in the call for Villanueva’s resignation.
“We know an abusive and unjust sheriff when we see one,” said Kurt Petersen, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11. “Our union successfully unseated Sheriff Arpaio in Arizona in 2016 and we are ready to do the same with Villanueva.”
“Our communities are tired of the lies, abuse, misogyny, and racism that Villanueva consistently hurls at our communities and leaders, said Eunisses Hernandez co-executive director of La Defensa and a member of the JusticeLA Coalition. “It’s time he held himself accountable for his actions and for all the harm he has caused. It’s time he resigns. If not, we’ll make sure he’s out in 2022.”
In 2016, UNITE HERE Local 11 led the successful campaign to unseat the notoriously abusive Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona. The campaign to oust Sheriff Arpaio was called #AdiosArpaio. On Thursday, the coalition launched #AdiosVillanueva.
“From the time he was elected, the Sheriff has treated his office as an abusive dictatorship by reinstating an officer who had been fired due to domestic violence, exceeding his budget beyond that of his predecessors, and adding more trauma to the mourning families of murdered loved” said Pastor Cue Jn’Marie of the Check the Sheriff Coalition. “The murder of 18 year old Andres Guardado and the attempted cover up by Sheriff deputies was the last straw that broke our hearts and will break injustice’s back. Adios Villanueva!”
“The ACLU of Southern California calls for the resignation of an elected local official only in dire circumstances when that official presents a ‘grave and imminent threat to civil liberties.’ Sadly, we have reached that point with Sheriff Villanueva, who has turned his back on the people of Los Angeles County and is actively undermining efforts to rein in a department with a long history of abuse and an utter lack of transparency and accountability. He holds a position of the highest trust, and he has betrayed it,” said Hector Villagra, Executive Director of ACLU SoCal.
Andres Guardado was the son of long time UNITE HERE Local 11 member, Cristobal Guardado, who is a cook at the Downtown Grand Hotel. Andres was killed while working as a security guard at an auto body shop. Two autopsies – including one by the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner – concluded that Andres perished after being shot five times in the back by a sheriffs’ deputy.
“Villanueva has proven himself to be the most corrupt sheriff in the nation. His brazen refusal to engage community or show even the most basic level of respect for County residents further emboldens the most criminal, violent and murderous elements within the ranks,” said Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles. “In the names of Ryan Twyman, AJ Weber, Andres Guardado, Mitrice Richardson, Paul Rea, Anthony Varga, John Horton and hundreds of others, Villanueva must go.”
“Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice is appalled at the way that Sheriff Villaneuva has handled the investigation into the shooting of Andres Guardado. This, on top of his dismissive relationship with the Civilian Oversight Commission, his neglect of his legal responsibilities to answer subpoenas and be accountable to the people of Los Angeles bring us to call for the Sheriff’s immediate resignation. In the Jewish tradition, doing the work of justice in the world is acting as a partner of God. Similarly, perverting justice is the undoing of creation itself. Sheriff Villanueva has, unfortunately been perverting rather than doing justice and it is time for him to go home, to pave the way for justice for Andres Guardado, and to uproot the injustice in the LASD,” said Rabbi Aryeh Cohen.