Video appears to show LA city councilwoman flip off man during public comment

Josh Haskell Image
Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Obscene or innocent? Los Angeles councilwoman's gesture sparks concern
A video from a Los Angeles City Council meeting appears to show Councilmember Imelda Padilla make an obscene gesture to a member of the public, but she says she was fidgeting with a pen.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The public comment portion of Los Angeles City Council meetings are often unpredictable, with some going off topic or using the microphone to offend.

But at a committee meeting last Friday, it was Councilmember Imelda Padilla who offended and shocked community organizer Raul Claros while he was giving public comment.

Video shot by Claros' 8-year-old daughter Valentina, who attended the meeting with her dad, appears to show Padilla flip off Claros while he spoke opposing a motion that he says has divided the Guatemalan and El Salvador communities.

"How petty. How unprofessional and in this circumstance with my child being there. How unfortunate and disgusting," Claros said.

Raul Claros' daughter was filming her father speaking at the Los Angeles City Council as he questioned a gesture made by Councilwoman Imelda Padilla.

"Councilmember Padilla obviously lost control and sense of where she was at. She was at a council meeting. She wasn't on the block. She wasn't at a club. She was doing city business in the people's house," said Claros.

Padilla claims, however, that she was not intentionally directing an obscene gesture toward Claros.

In a statement, the councilwoman said:

"I am aware that my fidgeting and twirling of a pen seems to have given the impression that I made an inappropriate hand gesture during a public meeting. That was certainly not my action. It is unfortunate that this individual would accuse me of such a disrespectful act that goes completely against what I stand for. I have been outspoken about the need to maintain civility in our council meetings and have vocalized the need to maintain an environment at city council that empowers all youth to be a voice for their communities. Misunderstandings are something that can always be addressed by reaching out to our office."

At one point, Claros stopped talking and asked Padilla "are you flipping me off, Councilmember?"

His daughter agreed that it looked to her like Padilla was making an obscene gesture.

"I saw that she put the finger up because she was just scratching like this. But, with her middle finger. and then when my dad said wait, are you doing the middle finger at me? She just said no. It shocked me. Is she trying to fake it?" said Valentina Zamora-Claros.