Trans and Black Activists Plan Protests Against City Councilmember John Duran

Transgender flag image at the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards

Transgender activists and allies including the TransLatin@ Coalition, the United Woman’s Coalition, and All Black Lives Matter have come together to plan protests against West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran.

The impetus for the protests is Duran’s criticism of the painting of the transgender flag in the middle of the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards the night before the June 14 All Black Lives Matter protest march in West Hollywood. That intersection, which features two rainbow flag crosswalks, is widely viewed as the entrance to “Boystown,” a term used to describe the gay nightlife district of West Hollywood. But those involved also have cited Duran’s demeaning description of a young man because of his Asian ethnicity, allegations of inappropriate advances by him on young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, his apparent support for Ed Buck, his reference to himself as a “person of color,” and his positioning himself as the “mayor of Boystown,” which some members of the LGBTQ communities see as unaccepting of those who aren’t gay.

One of the organizers, whose name WEHOville agreed not to disclose because of his relationship with the city, said times and locations of the protests are still being decided. He said they may include an appearance outside the building at 9200 Sunset Blvd. that houses Duran’s law practice, or outside his apartment building on Harratt Street or at the July 6 City Council meeting. (However, the “Enough Erasure Trans Rally” planned for 1 p.m. tomorrow at Sal Guarriello Veterans Memorial was cancelled.) The organizer said the protests will be relatively spontaneous and not heavily promoted in advance.

John Duran

At the June 15 City Council meeting, which was a virtual meeting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Duran was critical of the fact that the transgender flag  was painted in the intersection by people who hadn’t sought the city’s permission to do so. That intersection was the official end point of the June 14 march, and the city removed the transgender flag image the next week. Duran and others were critical of the fact that members of city boards and commissions participated in the painting of the flag and that Mayor Lindsey Horvath was on the scene while it was being painted and made no objection. Among those involved in the painting were John Erickson, a member of the city’s Planning Commission and Alexis Sanchez,  a member of the city’s Transgender Advisory Board. Erickson is a candidate in the campaign in which Duran and Councilmember John Heilman are running for re-election on Nov. 3. Duran’s statements resulted in a demand by the United Woman’s Coalition that he resign from the City Council.

In a text conversation with WEHOville, Duran noted that he was the only City Council member to have appointed a transgender person to a city commission (Desiree Sol to the Public Safety Commission). He also said that he had worked with former City Councilmember Jeffrey Prang to have a transgender flag flown on the mast at the triangle at the intersection of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica boulevards.

Black organizers of the planned protests, who also spoke on condition that they not be named, objected to Duran’s references to himself as a “person of color.” That term generally is used to describe someone who is not a white non-Hispanic. Some people do identity as white Hispanics.

While Duran has faced and continues to face pushback from LGBTQ minority group and Black activists who rallied to demand the arrest of Ed Buck, he continues to get financial support from major real estate developers and to be embraced by leaders of the LGBTQ communities. On his Channel Q online radio program he has hosted Lorri Jean, the CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center; Richard Ayoub, CEO of Project Angel Food; Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami; Lucia Chappelle and Keith Mozingo of the Metropolitan Community Churches, and Chris Bowen, a member of the Stonewall Young Democrats.

As of Dec. 31, 2019, the largest percentage of the $108,000 in donations (35%) to Duran’s 2020 re-election campaign has come from real estate developers and those associated with them, including lobbyists, lawyers, architects and contractors. Today is the deadline for making donations (which are limited to $1,000 per donor) that will be reported on July 31. Those real estate development interests include a lawyer with the firm representing the owner of the 8500 Sunset project, whose use as short-term housing Duran supported; the managers of Townscape Partners, developers of the 8899 Beverly Blvd. project, and Simon and Daniel Mani, owners of major office buildings on Sunset Boulevard who also are known for their significant contributions to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

  1. John Duran isn’t my favorite person in the world, but he has the right as a Latino to call himself a person of color. He also has the right and indeed the duty to point out that anything painted in the city on city property without proper permits is illegal and has repercussions. I don’t have a law degree and I understand that clearly expressed issue. Like him or not, Duran also stands with his face for the world to see (or in some cases, slap) rather than hiding because of “his relationship to the city” (hmmm- running for council?) Holding a public tantrum in front of someone’s apartment building reads more as a grab for TV airtime and a personal vendetta than a valid quest for equal rights.

    1. Yes! Reason has gone out the window and when this crap is pulled it shows a void of reason that exists and a total lack of understanding when it comes to the law.

  2. Duran deserves to be out but not for this reason. I don’t watch council meetings but does he have any support for opposing the illegal painting? It has NOTHING to do with trans and it’s alarming that they believe it does.

  3. John Duran is in the right on this one. For years our city has been issuing fines for businesses and others who have painted images on their store windows. Just last year they issued an enforcement against a business at that very corner for painting a rainbow without their approval on the side of their building to allow people to take selfies during Pride month. How is it fair that these people are fined by the city for doing this on their own property but an individual or group can go ahead and randomly paint large areas of public property with no approval and no rise of fines? Let’s remember, too, that the rainbow crosswalk went through a process of public engagement and city approval.

    Lindsay Horvath has set a dangerous precedent for the city in being on scene and not opposing this action knowing, as she should as Mayor, of the city requirements for such actions that apply to everyone else.

    This is, in no way, a statement of lack of support for black organizers or the transgender community. It is merely a statement of the fair application of regulations that exist in our city and must apply equally to everyone.

    1. If candidates want to give JD a run for the money in 2020, they ought to try something else. This isn’t it, IMO.

    2. Yes, Keith…he’s right on this one! People can’t go around and paint public property because they want to…whatever the cause. It’s ridiculous and instead of people tuning in…they’re now tuning out. Enough.

      1. Yes, and I might be one of them. Despite his human flaws (we all have them), I’ll vote for his intellectual honesty and rigor over any of the grandstanding by most of the other candidates.

    3. The citation mentioned was a warning. Rounderbum who is referenced did not get fined. They were asked to take down the Pride sign and they did in a timely manner, not 24 hours. Similarly the question is not if it is right or wrong to take the liberty of painting the trans flag on the intersection aided by council member, candidate or other, its definitely wrong.. but protest stems from another issue, one- Duran’s approach and insulting way of comparing the trans flag to the confederate flag and two-the timing on the night before the Trans Pride. We could have waited one more day, this cheaply painted flag was not an $80,000 permanent crosswalk that took days and days to install and seal. Giving Duran credit for taking down the painted flag is wrong..the city Public Facilities Staff had that washed and cleaned.. The protest is about Durans response. He was not in charge of the city maintenance.

  4. If one were a cynic, one would think that political alliances aided by political consultants created this storm of nothingness through disjointed arguments and intellectually dishonest connections that do not exist. This is cancel culture at its worst. Multiple truths can coexist in the same space. John Duran has already paid the price for actions referenced by the (mostly anonymous) organizers of these demonstrations. His words and questions regarding the antics of some members of city boards and commissions,
    along with a candidate for city council, and the shameful complicity of a sitting member of the city council are very clearly and specifically directed at the act of criminal vandalism and nowhere near an infringement on the treasured and wholly justified exercise of First Amendment rights. Our collective ability to think critically, connect the dots, and indeed to walk and chew gum at the same time have reached historic low points. Campaign 2020 is going to be really ugly.

  5. Get rid of all the entrenched interests, corrupt money and grandstanding in this city. Vote Duran out. Pick somebody new, let’s move this city forward.

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