New developments in the investigation of the racist City Hall audio leak have escalated the search for those responsible after the Los Angeles Police Department reportedly gained new intelligence after warrants were served on web platforms Twitter and Reddit.
The LAPD initially focused its search on two social media accounts, according to one of the warrants first obtained by the Los Angeles Times. According to sources that were granted anonymity by the Times, several other warrants in the probe do exist. No suspects in the investigation have been named publicly.
LAPD Detective Mark Seston said that he believes information gained from the social media accounts “would assist with revealing further avenues of investigation related to the felony crime of eavesdropping,” he wrote. The information has “a high probability of containing evidence that would assist in identifying the owner(s)… and further identify the suspect(s) responsible for posting the private conversations.”
First surfacing in early October, nearly a year after it was recorded, the profanity-filled conversation between then-L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Kevin de Leon, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera amounted to a bombshell exposure of discussions among those in power behind closed doors.
Outrage over the language and content heard on the audio ensued rapidly across the city and among those watching across the nation; this included a condemnation and a call to step down from President Joe Biden. The aftershocks of the leak led to the eventual resignation of Martinez and Herrera, while de Leon and Cedillo refused to leave their elected positions, with the latter holding out until the end of his term. Cedillo cited so-called cancel culture in a statement on why he didn’t resign the day after his term ended, CBS reported.
Much of the outrage was focused on racist remarks by Martinez, who at one point referred to white Councilman Mike Bonin’s Black child as “changuito,” or “monkey.” Martinez carried on, complaining about the child’s behavior while aboard a parade float; at one point, she said, “They’re raising him like a little white kid, which I was like, ‘this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.'”
Martinez also referred to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon, uttering, “f— that guy. … He’s with the Blacks.” In response, Gascon penned an op-ed in the Times condemning the “horrific comments,” and reiterating his support for all Angelenos.
The initial investigation into the leak and who recorded their meeting was sought by Martinez, Cedillo and Herrera. According to the warrant, the Times reports that the LAPD has reason to believe that the recording of the four individuals without their knowledge violated state eavesdropping law—a potential felony.
California is a two-party consent state, which means that all participants must agree to be recorded. But some exceptions exist. A first-time violation of PC632 or the state’s eavesdropping law can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and/or jail or prison time of up to a year.
One of the warrants was served in October and Seston requested a 90-day delay before the accounts are notified, the Times reports. Besides personal information that may aid in the identification of the leaker or leakers, internet protocol addresses were requested, which could connect the LAPD with devices that were used to access the accounts.
Reddit user Honest-Finding-1581 was reported to have posted the original recording and the Twitter account @LAunionLaundry tagged reporters bringing awareness to the leak.
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