The White People at the Irvine Town Hall

Angelenos call for resignations and reforms at town hall on racist audio leak

A group of about 250 people, both white and Hispanic, gathered at an Irvine, California, park around noon on Thursday, September 19, as the town hall began to be televised. There they spoke of the media, of their fears over what the leaked audio had revealed, and of their requests for police and government officials to resign.

“I’ve got friends who got to this place and are not doing what they should be doing, like my parents and my friends are, because of what’s happened,” said Mary, a white woman. “This is not a small group but a group that grew until it is now going to be a big group.”

These are not small numbers: While the average American population is between about 4 million and 6 million, California has more than 13 million people. And while most racist incidents are on the small side, the recent wave of racist audio revelations comes on the heels of a series of recent high-profile incidents, including the police shooting of Stephon Clark in 2016, the shooting of a black man by white officers at a gas station in 2017, and the killing of George Floyd at a peaceful protest in 2016.

The number of audio recordings of racist speech is also on the rise. In December 2017, the New York Times published leaked audio showing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump making a number of racist remarks, including claims that Mexican immigrants were “bringing crime to our country,” and that a judge of Mexican descent should have been in prison for his decision in 1992 that the government’s decision to deregulate the telecommunications industry was “an attack on our country.”

Even though it is rare for people to be recorded using racist language, and even less common for those recordings to be made in public places, the public discussion has largely focused around these reports, and not about much else. In an effort to show that racism remains part of our country’s culture, and to make sure that white people are able to participate in the public discourse, a number of white and Hispanic people at this town hall spoke of their desires for greater diversity on the panel, and their desire for greater participation from minorities. People spoke passionately about the need for diversity and inclusion, of police and government officials, and of policies designed to combat racism and

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