Echo Park - The chair of the Echo Park Neighborhood Council, Darcy Harris, has quit the board. It's the seventh resignation from the board since last July, and the third resignation that traces back to an incident last June involving a lawn gnome in a noose.
“Since this situation has arisen, it has been used to sabotage the morale, time and energy of myself and other members of the Board,” Harris said in her departure letter. “We are not functioning as well as we could have been. It is time for me to focus my energy on other pursuits.”
Harris’ resignation had come weeks after a censure against her had been withdrawn after it had been critiqued by city officials. The censure was proposed by board members Lauren Buisson, Rosalinda Morales, and Brenda Valdivia.
Buisson expressed surprise about the resignation.
“Especially with the timing. But I’m not entirely shocked, given what transpired at the last board meeting,” particularly in a particularly contentious public comment section, Buisson said.
Harris said, however, that she had been thinking about resigning since last summer
The situation Harris mentioned in her letter began last summer. A photo emerged of a statue with a noose around its neck, which appeared on the porch of then-board member Tad Yenawine. The statue, which Yenawine said had been set up by a roommate in January, attracted attention and criticism after the death of George Floyd and BLM protests.
The situation escalated when Yenawine and fellow board member Chris Ellington were accused of being insensitive to women and people of color in their comments on NextDoor. In response, the two council members complained they had been unfairly maligned and were the victims of cancel-culture.
Yenawine and Ellington both resigned from the board in July as a result.
Harris was not part of the discussion, but was targeted by critics for not condemning the two men in strong terms immediately. At the time, Harris said she was constrained by the bylaws of the council to remain neutral.
She elaborated on Monday to The Eastsider that the board had to address the controversy - in public, and with the topic announced in advance - before she could publicly judge the issue.
“Part of the reason I took a neutral position was because the City Attorney said not to take sides until there’s a censure motion,” Harris told The Eastsider.
“My hands have been tied for six months because I’ve been trying to follow the rules,” Harris said. “And everything i’ve done seems to have bitten me in the ass.”
Since Yenawine and Ellington resigned, Harris has been bombarded by demands for her to leave as well. This included the public comment section of the most recent board meeting, where callers repeatedly told her to apologize and resign, with some calling her racist.
Harris referred to these comments as an orchestrated campaign.
“No one identified exactly what I did wrong,” Harris said. “No one has identified exactly what makes me racist.”
Harris added the Neighborhood Council had been dysfunctional and factional when she first joined, and it appeared to be headed back in that direction now.
“Maybe it’s also Zoom and COVID,” Harris said. “I don’t think this would have happened the way it did if we’d been meeting together in a room.”