Councilman Bernard Parks Likens Union Leaders To Slaveholders
Update: 4:30 p.m. Parks' opponent, Forescee Hogan-Rowles, calls Parks' slavery analogy "a racist tactic." More below.
The gloves are coming off in the 8th Council District. Councilman Bernard Parks unleashed a righteous vent on Twitter on Sunday, apparently fed up with the $750,000 labor campaign against him.
He actually went way over the 140-character limit, so he turned to TwitLonger, the site for those who "talk too much for Twitter."
And boy, did he have something to say. For one thing, he likened two union leaders to slaveholders. But that's not all...
To give some context, the labor-funded mailers in the 8th District are starting to get pretty negative. A recent one showed graffiti, broken windows and a pothole. The caption read, "While Bernard Parks is helping downtown special interests, our community suffers."
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Parks responded on Sunday by going after Brian D'Arcy, the business manager of IBEW Local 18, and Paul Weber, the president of the L.A. Police Protective League. (They are important players in the independent campaign in favor of Parks' opponent, Forescee Hogan-Rowles. But Parks left out the most important figure: L.A. County Federation of Labor head Maria-Elena Durazo. It'll become clear why in a moment.)
"They have rounded up a little-known member of our community who, in exchange for them spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote her candidacy, has sold out to them and to their agenda," Parks wrote.
In case his Twitter followers do not know what the LAPPL is, Parks introduced it this way:
"Who is the Police Protective League? To give you a quick historical overview, this is the same group that said they would encourage police officers to retire from the department if Tom Bradley was ever elected mayor."
That was in 1969, but Parks decided that in order to properly capture what's going on in this campaign, he had to reach back even deeper into history:
"Hundreds of years ago, people were allowed to own people. Paul and Brian don't own me and they will never own my vote to consistently protect your interests."
He also called D'Arcy and Weber "puppet masters," but it seems likely that comparing them to slaveholders will prove to be more memorable.
Looks like it's going to be a nasty campaign from now until March 8.
Update: Paul Weber, the president of the LAPPL, responded this morning:
"I think it's pathetic that he's going back to 1969 and trying to smear us for something that occurred when I was 8 years old," Weber said. "The vast majority of my membership wasn't even alive in 1969."
As for the slaveholder remark, Weber said, "I think that's offensive. I've never even talked to the man. He doesn't know me."
Parks, a former police chief, also claimed in his Twitter post that he had uncovered the Rampart scandal.
"That's an absolute lie," Weber said. "He didn't discover Rampart. Rampart was occurring under his command."
Afternoon update: In an interview, Forescee Hogan-Rowles said she was "astounded" by Parks' comments in reference to slavery, which she described as a "racist tactic."
"My great-grandparents were slaves," she said. "They worked very hard and were freed and had to make it with nothing. Just to take lightly my heritage, and that of many African-Americans... that was atrocious."
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