G Johnson (REDACTED)
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Saturday, January 11, 2020, 11:00 PM PST
War with the Ethiopians Democratic Club
Certified Black candidate prohibited from speaking on the podium
I guess it’s wise to tell the story from the beginning. In 2018 September I decided to run for council person District 10 Los Angeles. I filed for my campaign committee and everything was in order. I was a candidate for purpose of raising contributions.
It was not until over a year later that candidates would be able to pick up nominating petitions and there was a three week window, which I was told was shorter than normal, to return the petitions with sufficient 500-1000 signatures. (1000 valid signatures and one would not have to pay the $300 filing fee). I did not gain enough signatures to qualify for having my named placed on the ballot for voters to choose from. But the city offers another way to receive votes and that is to have the voter write your name onto the ballot, also called a certified qualified write in candidate. I was able to qualify for that by filling out a few forms and paying $300.
The list of candidates (non-write-in) was finalized December 13, 2019. I requested that write-in candidates be allowed to register right away but the city insisted that write-in candidates could not register until January 6, in my opinion as stated giving undue advantage to the non-write-in candidates.
Nevertheless, anyone keeping up with the election would see the list of candidates and a separate list of write-in candidates on the city clerk website. In other words, if candidates are being segregated from forums, it is not by accident.
Somewhere around there the community groups start organizing their candidate forums. There does not seem to be any local ordinances governing how the forums are run although some are run by city government compensated neighborhood councils.
Around January 8, 2020, on FB no doubt, I learned that the League of Women Voters was holding a candidate forum, also sponsored by numerous neighborhood councils. (That story is told elsewhere on this site). But before that candidate forum would be held, another advertised “qualified candidate” forum would be sponsored by the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles, their site saying they are a political party, and held at the Messob Ethiopian Restaurant at 1041 S Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles.
Between Wednesday Jan 8 and Saturday Jan 11, I would post numerous times on the Ethiopian Democratic Club of Los Angeles and post messages that the League of Women Voters was planning to exclude me. There was no response from the Ethiopians. I did not see a phone number for their club but I did find an email Saturday morning, wrote them that I am a certified write in candidate and would like to appear on the podium. I received no response.
I arrived early at the event and spoke to one of the organizers named Ada. I told her who I was and I would like to appear on the podium with the other candidates. Don’t quote me but she made up every excuse in the book like “this is the first we have heard of you” “this forum is only for qualified candidates whose names appear on the ballot” etc. Nevertheless, I said to myself I will just go in and bide my time, maybe talk to someone else in authority. I did talk with a few voters who said they had seen my Facebook posts about the campaign.
A few minutes into the presentations, I decided to speak. All the speakers (Grace Yoo, Channing Martinez, Melvin Snell, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Aura Vasquez) had microphones as well as the moderator. I was on the other side of the room and had to raised my voice to be heard, “I am certified candidate and I would like to be on the podium” which I repeated about three times. Well, it seemed like people came running out of everywhere, and I believe Ada asked me could she speak to me privately. I agreed and we went outside the rear of the restaurant. We were joined by another lady and then a man who said he was security. I repeated who I was and that I would like to be on the podium. Still another round of excuses from them, and they accused me of making a disturbance. I told them I was not making a disturbance and I did not appreciate being threatened (Ada said if you make another disturbance they would ask me to leave) and I told them I would call the police to enforce my rights and they said go ahead. She said “You did not get here in time.” I said, “I am here now”.
So I went back in, heard a few more speeches, and as I walked out, I again said. “I am a certified candidate. I would like to be heard” a few times. I did not hear any of the candidates offer any assistance to me.
I think I have been traumatized. I keep seeing continents spinning in my head. It’s like learning about a birthday party in your honor and you get there and they tell you to get out.
I request the council suspend all candidate forums until all candidates are allowed to be on the podium.
All rights reserved.
G. Juan Johnson
2020 Candidate Certified Qualified Write-in
“(b) All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”
2010-1-11 Ethiopian Diner.jpeg327.6kB
2020-1-11 Ethiopian Forum.jpeg206.2kB