Echo Park - Another member of the Echo Park Neighborhood Council has resigned in the wake of controversy over a statue with a noose tied around it.
District 2 Representative Chris Ellington submitted a letter of resignation, which was read at a contentious meeting of the Council Thursday night. The board also read the resignation note from At-Large Representative Tad Yenawine, which was made public Wednesday.
Ellington was vice treasurer for the board. Yenawine was the secretary. Both of those officer positions will have to be refilled.
Both resignations trace back to a lawn gnome statue with a noose around its neck, which was spotted on a side porch of Yenawine’s house. Yenawine said the statue was placed there by his then-roommate sometime before the beginning of January. The roommate's intent behind the display is unknown, but he had suffered from depression, Yenawine said.
Yenawine became the target of criticism in the aftermath of BLM protests in early June.
The situation escalated when Yenawine responded to a NextDoor discussion about the statue. Ellington joined in with the discussion, which turned acrimonious. Yenawine and Ellington were accused of being insensitive to women and people of color who had criticized the statue, while the two council members complained they had been unfairly maligned and were the victims of cancel-culture.
A petition with more than 1,000 signers soon followed, calling for the resignation of Yenawine and Ellington, as well as Board Chair Darcy Harris. The bulk of the complaints about Yenawine and Ellington focused on their comments in NextDoor, many of which were made public in a document attached to the petition.
Compounding the turmoil, the back-and-forth by council members outside of a former meeting may have been a violation of the state's Brown Act, which guarantees the public's right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.
In the NextDoor discussion, Ellington and Yenawine may have sparked a virtual council conversation on a public issue in an unannounced forum, according to neighborhood council guidelines.
“For the second time in 15 months, my technical ineptitude had caused me to run afoul of the Brown Act,” Ellington said, in explaining his resignation. “This time by hitting reply all instead of reply to an email that included members of the public.
“Even though I was responding impulsively to the most inaccurate and unqualified psychoanalysis I have ever read, of myself and others, I made a mistake,” Ellington wrote in his resignation. “Sadly, it was a mistake that turned what was an already bad situation into something worse.”
Harris also was under pressure to step down as chair of the council, with critics saying she has been covering for and enabling Ellington and Yenawine's behavior. Harris has said she is constrained by the bylaws of the council to remain neutral.
"If you don’t want this to happen again, stay off NextDoor," one person said during the often tumultuous public comment portion of last night's meeting.