At least one law and order candidate for council wants to restrict access to the city’s public facilities based on his own political views, forcing them and any charities they might support into more “appropriate” locations.
City council challenger Christopher Landavazo sought to make political hay out of Jane Fonda’s appearance at a West Hollywood event designed to promote a campaign to fight violence against women last week. The worldwide event, One Billion Rising, was heavily promoted by the city beginning with the decision to hold the event in October, 2012. Along with that decision came the usual waiving of fees the city should customarily charge a for-profit organization to hold an event in a city park.
The event organizers made sure there was plenty of Hollywood star power present at Sal Guarriello’s Veterans Memorial Park on Valentine’s Day, including not only actress Jane Fonda but also Marisa Tomei and Anne Hathaway. Council candidate Sam Borelli and council members Abbe Land and John Duran also put in appearances, both making comments. Ms. Fonda’s appearance is part of a continued civil rights and women’s issues advocacy that she has championed over the years.
The challenger, having lived in WeHo for one year and seeking a city council seat, weighed in on the appearance of the Vietnam-era anti-war protester who infamously got caught on camera sitting on an anti-aircraft battery, saying that the 41-year-old incident still provokes resentment in voters who he apparently hopes to leverage into support for his campaign. He inveighed against the city council for not preventing Ms. Fonda from express her First Amendment right on a particular plot of land.
He says that because Ms. Fonda is connected to the event, the city and event's organizers ought to have "respected" his and other service members' negative opinions about Ms. Fonda and held the conclave in a space that would not have disturbed their sensitivities.
Ms. Fonda visited Hanoi in July 1972. In a recent entry at her official website, Fonda explained: “Here is my best, honest recollection of what happened: someone (I don't remember who) led me towards the gun, and I sat down, still laughing, still applauding (after hearing a song honoring Ho Chi Minh that included the phrase, “All men are created equal; they are given certain rights; among these are life, Liberty and Happiness.”). I hardly even thought about where I was sitting. The cameras flashed … It is possible that it was a set-up, that the Vietnamese had it all planned. I will never know.”
She has through the decades repeated her oft-stated apologies for the gotcha moment on television, in her memoir and on that blog.
Yet Mr. Landavazo sees only the offense, not the remorse or apologies, and made his feelings known with a statement issued to WeHo News. He would allow the statement’s use only if it were published in precisely the way he wrote it:
“I am extremely supportive of women's empowerment and of the efforts of "One Billion Rising" to bring attention to ending violence against women. My non-profit work here in the US and Internationally via the Cops 4 Causes El Salvador International Cop X-Change clearly demonstrates my commitment to addressing women's and children's issues including but not limited to domestic violence, health and wellness issues.
“I am third generation U.S. Military Veteran, who served two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf, fought nationally to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT), and was recalled for additional service, due to the tragic events of 9/11. I am also the son of a Vietnam War Veteran and I continue to devote my time to Veteran's affairs. Ms. Fonda's historical photo on the anti-aircraft-battery and statements made in Hanoi in 1972 (3 years before I was born) still provoke a deep resentment by many Vietnam Veteran's and American's, as a whole.
“Our City's leadership should have recognized the sensitivity regarding the Veterans Memorial and it's importance and prominence to our Veterans community and of our service men and women and chosen a more suitable park within our City to host this event with Ms. Fonda.
“On the day of the "One Billion Rising" ceremony, attendees were standing on the Veteran's Memorial Monument, which pays tribute to the thousands of men and women who gave their lives in service of our country to preserve Democracy around the world. Our West Hollywood Sal Guarriello Veteran's Memorial should be respected for the men, women and families for which it stands.”
He did not say how, if he is elected to office, he would prevent people who disagree with him from utilizing the public park of their choice, although in an interview with WeHo News, he promised to make “fair” decisions by taking an “unbiased approach,” sitting in the middle, “listening first, investigating and then making decisions based on what’s best for the community and then standing firm on that decision.”