Congressional candidate Omar Navarro has resigned from his position as a Traffic Commissioner after a heated clash with members of the Defend Movement that had reached a fever pitch. Navarro announced his decision via an official statement released on his Facebook page that read, in part, as follows:
“Recently, I was made aware of a partisan political effort to oust me from the Torrance Traffic Commission ... As a resident of Torrance for over 14 years and graduate of West Torrance High School, it has been a great privilege and honor to serve our community. Traffic is something that effects us all equally, no matter our politics or socio-economic status. While I remain focused on defeating corrupt career politician Maxine Waters, I will not let radical political activists disrupt the important work of the Torrance Traffic Commission. As such, I am resigning from the commission, effective immediately.
Navarro’s resignation came shortly after the Torrance City Council, by a 5 to 2 vote, took the initial step to remove him from office. Based on that vote, the Council was slated to officially determine his fate at an upcoming meeting.
Mayor Furey had embraced Navarro’s critics and publicly denounced him at a recent meeting. Furey followed that action by announcing on Facebook last Friday that he had sent an official letter to all LA County mayors apologizing for any disruptive behavior caused by Navarro or other activists identifying themselves as residents of Torrance.
Emboldened by that support from Furey, Silvia Merlos and several other members of the Defend Movement, appeared before the City Council last Tuesday night demanding that Navarro be removed from his commissioner role. Merlos backed off a prior claim that Navarro had peppered sprayed a child, but did continue to insist Navarro was complicit in the act and that Navarro’s conduct warranted removal from his official role representing Torrance. The incident in question, caught on video, shows Navarro riding in the back of a vehicle as a passenger released a canister of pepper spray into a threatening crowd of activists that had followed the group to their car.
Navarro appeared at the Council meeting on Tuesday to confront the accusations. During his comments, he blasted the Mayor for siding with a group that had made degrading accusations against himself and his wife that amounted to slander. Navarro also called Mayor Furey a pawn of Maxine Waters and claimed that he would give $1000 to anyone that would challenge the mayor in his next election.
Navarro’s official resignation statement also included a lengthy campaign video that chronicled many of his recent encounters and that attempted to refute many of the accusations hurled against him and other conservative activists.
The Defend Movement posted the news to their Facebook page hailing it a victory for their cause. One commentator posted:
After all the barking this buffoon did here in Cudahy…it only took 2 visits from DEFEND MOVEMENT to put enough pressure on his weak ass to RESIGN as traffic commissioner before getting FIRED by council vote. Classic Republican MO. Anyone else want to mess with Cudahy??? Try it. See what happens.
Merlos was more diplomatic adding that:
Omar Navarro’s resignation before this matter was fully investigated and evaluated by the Torrance city council demonstrates that he is aware that his actions toward our communities are hurtful and fueled by racist ideologies. What we are most grateful for in all of this is not Omar’s resignation, but rather the fact that the mayor of Torrance and the rest of the city council listened to our concerns, took responsibility for the actions of their residents and their traffic commissioner, and took measures to further investigate the matter.
The issue exposed some tension among the Council as Republican Councilmembers Ashcraft and Herring dissented to the vote taking action against Navarro while Griffiths voted in favor but added that his vote was not necessarily a reflection of how he would vote once they were able to obtain more evidence.
The Mayor also sharply interrupted Herring while Herring was briefly explaining his dissenting opinion. Herring was clearly miffed by the exchange explaining his feelings shortly thereafter by stating, “Your honorable mayor and I say honorable mayor because I will always respect the office of the mayor…I felt like I was rudely disrespected a few minutes ago.”
Herring then quickly exited the room after the meeting was adjourned not speaking to any of his colleagues.