LA mayoral candidate calls police ‘watchdog’ of white supremacy amid rising crime and homelessness

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A Los Angeles mayoral candidate described police and other law enforcement as the “watchdog” of white supremacy in a recent interview ahead of the June primary election.

Gina Viola, a self-described ‘abolitionist’ activist and member of ‘White People 4 Black Lives’, registered at the last minute to run among a group of mayoral candidates in the June 7 primary, vying for replace Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits.

Unlike favorites so far on the ballot, Rick Caruso and Rep. Karen Bass, D-California, who have both advocated adding more police to the force to tackle growing crime in Los Angeles, the Leftist Viola, with support from several Black Lives Matter leaders, pledges to phase out the Los Angeles Police Department over time and redirect funding to more social services.

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Los Angeles mayoral candidate Gina Viola speaks about homelessness at KCRW Studios on Friday, May 20, 2022 in Santa Monica, California.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

“I’m sorry, a vote for Rick Caruso is a vote for white supremacy,” Viola told the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview published Monday. “White supremacy is codified in our legal system created to create white wealth, and law enforcement is its watchdog.”

A spokesperson for Caruso, a billionaire former Republican who signed up as a Democrat in the mayoral race and has been endorsed by Kim Kardashian in recent days, called Viola’s comments “disturbing.”

Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso speaks during an interview in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 18, 2022.

Mayoral candidate Rick Caruso speaks during an interview in Los Angeles, Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
(Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Caruso, who has spent $37.5 million of his own money on his campaign, promises to hire 1,500 more officers into the force and “clean up LA” by getting many homeless people off the streets.

Many voters in heavily Democratic Los Angeles are seething with rising crime and homelessness, which could prompt the city to turn to the political right for the first time in decades.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rep. Karen Bass meets with supporters at Angel's Point in Elysian Park Friday, May 27, 2022.

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rep. Karen Bass meets with supporters at Angel’s Point in Elysian Park Friday, May 27, 2022.
(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

At another point, upscale mall and resort developer Caruso would seem an unlikely choice to potentially run the nation’s second-most populous city, where Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders was the runaway winner of the presidential primary. 2020 Democrat and a progressive town hall embraced the so-called sanctuary city protections, illegal immigrants, and “Green New Deal” climate policies.

There are 12 names on the ballot for the primary election, though several candidates have dropped out, and the race is shaping up to be a fight between Caruso, who sits on the board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and Bass, who was on Joe Biden’s shortlist for vice president in 2020.

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If no candidate gets 50% – which is likely with a crowded ballot – the top two advance to a runoff in November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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