Bray-Ali Accused of Making Racist, Transphobic Comments

By City News Service

City Council challenger Joe Bray-Ali’s campaign took another publicity hit Wednesday with the revelation of derogatory comments he posted online targeting the black and transgender communities, along with mentally disabled and overweight people.

The comments, first reported by LAist, include the use of the N-word during participation in a racist forum dedicated to expressing hatred of black people. The revelations come about a week after Bray-Ali apologized for a 9-year-old YouTube video in which he made comments directed at Mexicans.

The video appears on a Bray-Ali YouTube page. Holding his baby in his lap, Bray-Ali, who is of multiracial descent but not Latino, looks at the camera and says, “Dear Mexican. I’d like to know why all my neighbors think the doorbell is a car horn. They wake up my baby.”

Below the video is text that reads, “Why do some of my neighbors think that their car’s horn is a doorbell? The Asians, whites and other groups I live near don’t honk to tell their friends they have arrived. What is up with the Mexicans?”

Bray-Ali’s campaign manager, Michael Atkins, told City News Service the video was old and a relic of the First District challenger’s youth.

“Joe apologizes. He says the comment was stupid and it’s amazing how social media can remind of the mistakes of youth. This was nine years ago,” Atkins said.

The newly reported comments were made on a Reddit-like website called Voat under an online alias, ubrayj02, which Bray-Ali has used as his MySpace, Flickr and YouTube handle for more than a decade, according to LAist. In contrast to the You Tube video, some of the comments are just over a year old, close to the time Bray-Ali entered the city council race.

Bray-Ali has deleted the Voat comments over the last few days, LAist reported.

The Bray-Ali campaign did not respond to a request for comment from City News Service. But Bray-Ali told LAist, “Looking back on the comments, I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I apologize to my wife, daughter, family and community for putting them in this situation. My commitment to being accountable and of service to the community continues.”

Bray-Ali, 38, is challenging 1st District City Councilman Gil Cedillo, 63. Cedillo was forced into the May 16 runoff when the incumbent 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.

“The comments made by Joe Bray-Ali on Voat are disgraceful and have no place in the public square,” Cedillo said. “His assault on people from all walks of life clearly demonstrates that he is not fit for public office, and particularly unsuited to represent a district as diverse as Los Angeles’ 1st. This pattern of behavior is not acceptable in the Los Angeles City Council. I vehemently denounce his comments.”

The “Dear Mexican” video surfaced after Bray-Ali sent out a statement accusing Cedillo of failing to denounce an anti-immigrant slur yelled at Bray-Ali during a debate, when someone in

the audience said, “Go back to India.”

Bray-Ali has an Indian father, and is also of Hungarian, Irish and Jewish descent.

Cedillo is Latino and said he did not hear the comment yelled at Bray-Ali during the debate. A video of the debate showed that Cedillo was taking notes at the time and it was not clear if he heard the person.

He later denounced the comment, saying he would have done it sooner had he heard the remark.

Bray-Ali’s comments are drawing strong criticism from the leaders of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network — the nonprofit civil rights organization founded by Rev. Al Sharpton. The group called on Bray-Ali to drop out of the race and for Councilman Mitch O’Farrell to pull his endorsement of Bray-Ali.

“Bray-Ali is clearly unfit to serve in public service as a council member and doesn’t deserve the support of Council member O’Farrell or any voter. His transphobic, fat-shaming comments while participating on a racist website demonstrates he doesn’t have the moral character or leadership to serve as an elected official,” said Najee Ali, political director of NAN, and Pastor K.W.Tullloss, CEO of NAN, in a joint statement.

In one of the forums, which uses the N-word as its title, Bray-Ali commented on some videos of black people fighting, taking aim at their fighting skills and appearance and also used the word “retard” to describe a cameraman’s skills.

Other commentators use the N-word and other derogatory and racist language repeatedly, and Bray-Ali did not denounce the language in his own posts. One commentator said, “I like it when they die. Black lives don’t matter. Good for entertainment though.”

Bray-Ali also used the N-word himself when he said that dark-skinned people in a particular image were not Africans, which should disqualify them from being called the N-word.

On a forum called “v/FATPEOPLEHATE,” Bray-Ali commented on an overweight woman accused of aiding in the sexual abuse of her daughter, saying “If they keep her on her diet, that won’t be a long lifetime.”

In another forum, Bray-Ali said gender-reassignment surgery for transgender people “doesn’t seem like something worthy of praise, but instead of being criticized as a shameful excess.”

Bray-Ali is a former bicycle shop owner and biking activist. Although he has never held elected office, he received the endorsement of the Los Angeles Times editorial board and O’Farrell.

O’Farrell is openly gay and a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. He did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

 

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April 27, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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