Leandra Blades visited Washington this week for a self-described girls’ trip to hang out with friends and sightseeing.
It was like a slumber party with wine, said Blades, who was recently voted on in the Orange County’s Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified Board of Education interview streamed online.
Not to mention the fact that two days after their stay, Blades and her friends attended the Trump supporters’ rally that culminated in an attack on the U.S. Capitol that killed five people and shook the nation’s democratic foundation to the core.
Blades Denying Entry to the Capitol or participating in the violence will be one of at least two officers in Southern California who will be asked to resign due to their presence at the event. An online petition asking her to resign had nearly 2,800 signatures as of Saturday afternoon.
“I’m not going to hide my beliefs to appease people,” Blades said on Friday in a live streaming interview with Andy Falco Jimenez, who distinguishes himself as a CBD expert, retired police officer and motivational speaker. “This is who I am and I can still work with people, do my job and do the best for the children in Yorba Linda and Placentia.”
Blades did not respond to a message from a Times reporter seeking comment on Saturday.
The school district said in a statement that board members can exercise their right to freely express personal views, provided they act with dignity and make it clear that their opinions are their own.
“To the extent that public statements have been made by or about an individual board member regarding the events of January 6th in Washington, DC, we would like to clarify that these statements were not views shared by the board or Placentia. Yorba Linda Unified School District, ”said the district.
A similar scene is played out in Whittier, where the city council will debate Tuesday whether Councilor Jessica Martinez should be censored after she also traveled to Washington this week.
Martinez announced her intention to attend the rally on Twitter, along with several tweets challenging the legitimacy of the presidential election and branding Republicans who accepted the result as “traitors”. On Wednesday morning, she also uploaded a clip with video footage from the rally.
But Martinez, who didn’t respond to a message asking for comment on Saturday, later claimed in a Facebook post that she had never been to Capitol Hill.
“I’ve been elsewhere in Washington, DC, exercised my constitutional right to freedom of expression at a rally, and drove home immediately after graduation,” she wrote.
Whittier Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem Henry Bouchot, one of those calling for Martinez to be censored, said he was having a hard time believing that she attended another rally that day and that her participation bothered him.
“I did not expect a colleague on our elected body to be anywhere within 1,000 miles of Washington, DC, much less in the middle of a ‘stop the steal’ rally,” he said.
District manager Janice Hahn also added her voice to those who called for Martinez’s criticism.
“Any attempt to delay or prevent the peaceful transfer of power is a threat to our democracy and must have consequences,” said Hahn in a statement on Friday.
Martinez has been a source of controversy since she was elected to Whittier City Council in March.
Shortly after taking office, when she was also running for the State Assembly, she was a plaintiff in a lawsuit by the Conservative Center for American Freedom aimed at blocking Governor Gavin Newsom’s $ 75 million allocation to help during the COVID- 19 Pandemic to illegally provide financial aid to immigrants in the country who are not eligible for unemployment insurance.
The lawsuit, dismissed in May, drew protesters to Martinez’s home.
In June, the Los Angeles Area American-Islamic Relations Office called on Martinez to resign in what the organization described as “repeated racist and Islamophobic tweets against Muslims, Asians and Indians”.
The group cited posts promoting a meme of President Trump with a Fu Manchu mustache that read, “OK, I’m not going to say it’s the Chinese virus,” a tweet about Senator Elizabeth Warren in to which Martinez wrote: “President Pocahontas? She needs a wigwam, not the White House ”and a tweet about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) In which Martinez wrote that she“ can go back to where she came from and REALLY be a victim ”.
“Councilor Martinez has proven to be an equal opportunity bigot, and her comments on social media are below the position she currently holds,” said Hussam Ayloush, CAIR-LA’s executive director, in a statement at the time.
Martinez’s participation in the lawsuit and her social media activities sparked discussion among her city council colleagues but took no action, said Bouchot, a U.S. Marine elected in 2013 and currently the only Democrat on the four-member council.
“I didn’t think that, despite my urging, we as the council took a strong enough step,” he said on Saturday. “And I think we’re seeing the effects of that.”
More than 4,400 people had signed a new online petition calling for Martinez to be removed from office on Saturday afternoon.
But that won’t happen even if the motion to reprimand them takes precedence – it’s just a formal condemnation letter from their colleagues, Bouchot said. He said the city charter does not provide for council members to be removed unless they resign or are called back by a referendum.
Still, he said, blaming a councilor is “quite serious” and he doesn’t think it ever happened in Whittier town.
“I think Jessica has the ability to make our community a whole, and I think that starts with a formal assumption of responsibility,” he said. “So she obviously made a serious mistake. Some people believe that this failure is not something to recover from. But this is an opportunity for her to decide if she will continue this hole or if she will be someone who will unite people. “
Martinez has not apologized for attending the rally since returning from Washington, instead retweeted several messages blaming undercover agitators from Antifa and Black Lives Matter for the violence.
Blades, who was elected to the school board in November, also hinted at this conspiracy theory, finding that she was in front of Antifa by unspecified people at her hotel, as well as by at least two Uber drivers who hauled her and her friends around Washington – Attendees were warned.
“So, yeah, I think you were there?” she said and nodded in her livestream interview. “Did I see you enter the Capitol? No, I sure didn’t do that. “
In an interview, Blades said she first heard the Capitol was injured during a Trump rally in the Ellipse, a park about a mile away.
She declined the information as a rumor and stayed with the group when she found her way to Capitol Hill, where people waved flags and sang between vendors and food trucks, she said.
Blades said it wasn’t until her husband texted her that she found out something darker was happening: people had entered the Capitol and someone had been shot.
This woman, a 35-year-old Iraq war veteran from San Diego named Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by Capitol Police climbing through the broken window of a door to the speaker’s lobby, died of her injuries.
In addition, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died after he was reportedly hit with a fire extinguisher and two other men and a woman suffered fatal medical emergencies in hand-to-hand combat.
Even so, Blades said that she had not seen anyone enter the Capitol or participated in the attack even near the building.
“I had a man who asked me to hold a fire extinguisher so he could try to get up the wall and I said, ‘No, I’m sorry, I won’t,'” she said. “I said, ‘This is not who we are, we are peaceful.'”
She said she left a short time later to have lunch with her friends.
Blades also declined to express remorse, noting that she was open about being a Conservative Republican and outspoken Trump supporter. She said it was important for her to take part because she knew this could be her last chance to see a Trump rally.
“We left this trip with so many friends and so many new experiences,” said Blades. “It was just a great time for us.”