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UPDATE: LA County Democratic Party Calls for Sheriff Villanueva’s Resignation

Citing deputy gangs in the LASD, the party that endorsed Villanueva in 2018 is now asking for his removal.

Alex Villanueva wears a blue shirt and sits in an office.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva pontificates in a 2018 campaign video. (Source: Alex Villanueva For LA County Sheriff)

UPDATE 6/8/21: On June 6, 2021, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LADCP) voted on a motion to formally call for the removal of LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. The motion passed, with 91% of members voting in favor. In 2020, a similar motion calling for Villanueva’s resignation failed to carry the requisite 60% of votes to pass. To learn more about the motion, read Knock LA’s full story below.

On Wednesday evening, June 2, 2021, members of the LADCP Resolutions Committee unanimously passed a motion calling for the resignation of LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. If the motion passes with the larger body of voting members next week, the LACDP will formally ask Villanueva to leave office. The LACDP previously endorsed Villanueva in the 2018 Sheriff’s election.  

The motion references numerous requests from the Office of the Inspector General and a subpoena from the County to testify about deputy gangs blocked by Villanueva as evidence for the resignation. The Civilian Oversight Commission, which oversees the LASD, has also called for Villanueva’s resignation. The LACDP resolution additionally moves to have the LACDP stand in solidarity with the family of Andrés Guardado, an 18-year-old security guard who was shot in the back during an alleged deputy gang initiation, on the one-year anniversary of his death to condemn police brutality in Black and Brown neighborhoods. 

Hugo Soto-Martínez, a labor organizer with UNITE HERE Local 11 and member of the Los Feliz Neighborhood Council, previously worked with Guardado’s father. Soto-Martínez spoke with Guardado the day his son died, and said he decided to lead the labor movement to take a stand. “The reality is Villanueva was elected because of labor,” Soto-Martínez told the committee. “We acknowledge that we all fell for it.” 

The proposal was authored by Godfrey Santos Plata of AD-53, who represents the Guardado family’s district, Alton Wang of AD-49, and Elise Moore of AD-46. It’s sponsored by several prominent Democratic clubs in the Los Angeles area, additional labor unions, as well as several community organizations, including Black Lives Matter – Los Angeles. Plata said that he and a team of organizers are poised to begin whipping votes in favor of the new resolution to ensure it passes next week. 

The LACDP is responsible for crafting policy stances for the Democratic Party locally. Propositions are presented to the Resolutions Committee for discussion and amendments are then voted on. If the motion passes, it is voted on by 407 voting members of the LASCP’s Central Committee. 

The County party attempted to pass a motion calling for Villanueva’s resignation in 2020, which received support from several Democratic organizations. Citing Sheriff Villanueva’s “flagrant disregard and disrespect for the law, hubris, and obstruction to reasonable oversight and accountability,” the resolution called on Villanueva to resign. However, the motion did not receive the necessary 60% of votes to pass. 

Nick Greif of AD-50, who authored the 2020 motion, said that while the circumstances surrounding Villanueva’s conduct have not changed, the effort to garner votes in favor of the motion has significantly increased. “We only needed a few more votes then. I don’t think anything has made it more likely that people would flip to the no side than it was in November,” Greif said. “It’s been six months and things haven’t gotten better. They may be more likely to be amenable to that to the ‘yes’ side.”

[Disclosure: Godfrey Santos Plata was endorsed in his last election by Ground Game LA, a non-profit civic engagement group which supports Knock LA]