PICO RIVERA — The Pico Rivera City Council has asked for the resignation of Councilmember Gregory Salcido amid a public backlash to his recent anti-military remarks at Rancho High School, where he teaches, but he said he would not do so, it was reported.
“I’m not anti-military,” said Salcido, who was making his first public appearance at City Hall last night since the audio of his comments was posted on social media Jan. 26, the Whittier Daily News reported. “I am pro-education.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s took the extra security precaution for the meeting of having people pass through metal detectors before entering City Hall. Accommodations were made for the overflow crowd, estimated by officials at about 300. Those who could not fit inside the council chambers were seated under a canopy outside City Hall and watched the proceedings on a large screen TV, according to the newspaper.
At times, the crowd could be heard cheering as they listened to speakers in the chambers, the Daily News reported. The resolution the council passed 3-1-1, seeking his resignation, said Salcido’s comments “have placed our city under a cloud of dishonor, disparagement, suspicion and criticism” and that “taking such a drastic step is an effort to restore the positive image of our city.”
Mayor Gustavo Camacho and Councilmember Bob Archuleta, a veteran with two sons in the military, voted yes, along with Councilmember David Armenta, on the request for Salcido to resign. Councilmember Brent Tercero abstained and Salcido voted no.
The council heard from those for and against Salcido — who’s been on leave from the school — at the public forum. Fifty-five people came to podium with 53 demanding he resign and two former students speaking in support of Salcido, according to the Daily News. Salcido showed no emotion.
The council can’t force Salcido, who was voted to the council in 1999, from office. But Camacho introduced a motion to censure Salcido, which would bar him from city committees and appointments.
During his January rant, which began with Salcido criticizing a student, 17-year-old senior Victor Quiñonez, for wearing a U.S. Marine Corps T-shirt. Salcido called members of the military the “lowest of our low.”
“We’ve got a bunch of dumb s—s over there,” he says in the
recording. “Think about the people who you know who are over there — your freaking stupid Uncle Louie or whatever — they’re dumb. They’re not like high-level thinkers, they’re not academic people, they’re not intellectual people. They’re the freaking lowest of our low.”
At the meeting, Salcido said he was sorry to anyone his comments may have offended, but would not apologize for the remarks themselves, which he said “were definitely out of context.”
Salcido said he was trying to get his students, most of whom are low-income minorities, not to settle for the Army or Navy.
“My goal as it relates to my students is to get them to do everything to get to college,” said Salcido, who was shouted down by some angry members of the audience. “I wanted to challenge them to reach their academic potential.”
Quiñonez and his family said through an attorney they would not to attend the meeting because they felt, their presence would inflame the situation.
The El Rancho Unified School District has been “conducting a complete and timely investigation” into the incident.
“Our classrooms are not the appropriate place for one-sided discussions that undermine the values our families hold dear,” district officials said in a released statement. “We will find out exactly what happened and take all appropriate action to ensure that the values of our students and families are respected in our schools.”