In what was an energized crowd April 17 at a debate between Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo and challenger Joe Bray-Ali in advance of the city's district 1 runoff election next month, an audience member yelled at the Indian American challenger to "Go back to India."
The crowd at the first of two debates ahead of the May 16 election was virtually split, and upon hearing the audience member interrupt during Bray-Ali’s response to a question, the reaction was mixed.
A video of the incident was shared by Bray-Ali’s campaign team.
According to a news release from Bray-Ali’s campaign team, the person who shouted the slur was identified as a supporter of Cedillo.
The Indian-Hungarian-Irish Jewish and Muslim native of Los Angeles Bray-Ali, the son of an Indian immigrant father, and Cedillo are both Democrats.
Bray-Ali immediately condemned the words of the crowd member, clarifying that he was born in the U.S., saying it in both English and Spanish, and calling Los Angeles his home, according to a KPCC report.
A spokeswoman for Cedillo said in the KPCC report that the councilman didn’t hear the comment during the debate but that he “strongly denounces that type of behavior.”
Despite that, Bray-Ali has expressed his disappointment for Cedillo’s silence.
“My opponent condemns (President Donald) Trump for divisive statements, but is silent on his supporters’ bigoted attacks. I am asking for my council member to personally disavow this rhetoric, and for him to denounce his supporters’ comments for me to ‘Go back to India,’” Bray-Ali said in a statement. “I have known Gilbert Cedillo for 25 years, and my family has stood by him through good times and bad. He is not a racist, and he must stop this behavior before it leads to the same type of attacks we saw at Trump rallies.”
Bray-Ali finished second in the city council district 1 primary in March and was thrust into a runoff when the incumbent, Cedillo, did not secure the minimum 50 percent of the vote to win outright