LOS ANGELES - A City Council candidate who is already facing criticism for racist online comments is facing a new round of fire over remarks supporting the burning and desecrating of the American flag.
Veterans groups are calling for Joe Bray-Ali to drop out of the race based on a blog post he made on the topic of flag-burning. Bray-Ali recently posted on Facebook in writing and in a video his own comments from a 2006 blog post saying in part:
"Let people burn the flag all they want, let them put it in their avant-garde art videos smeared in poo. Let them destroy it. In the U.S. the flag is not the state. The people are the state."
The remarks drew anger from veterans.
"Don't tell me Mr. Ali that you care about us and that you're for homeless veterans," said Don Garza, one of several veterans who denounced Bray-Ali at a press conference. "Because what you just said makes it easy for you to deny veterans and fight against veterans when you disrespect that flag."
Bray-Ali is looking to unseat Councilman Gil Cedillo in the May 16 election for District 1, representing communities northeast and west of downtown.
"There are young men and women today around the world prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country, defend our way of life and the flag is tied to that," Cedillo said.
Asked about his flag-burning comments, the challenger was unapologetic.
"I know that protest and dissent are fundamental rights that are protected by our Constitution," Bray-Ali said.
Bray-Ali is already taking flak after it came to light that he had made multiple controversial online postings, including one using the N-word and others that made fun of the transgender and obese.
The remarks have cost him several key endorsements.
He also decided to come forward on Facebook with other damaging information about himself, including admitting he had cheated on his wife and owes about $48,000 in back taxes.