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Leaving L.A. City Council, Koretz issues parting f-bomb to 'disruptors and protesters'

Outgoing Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz used his final moments speaking on the council floor Friday to deliver a curt message to the protesters who have become a ubiquitous presence at City Hall in recent years.

After a video montage honoring his time in office, heartfelt tributes from his colleagues and a proposal to rename the Westwood Neighborhood Greenway in his honor, it was Koretz's time to speak.

Over about 15 minutes, the termed-out council member ruminated on his love of politics and activism, his long career in public service and his family.

He welcomed the incoming council member who will soon take his place, then abruptly switched tone.

"So I would just say lastly, to the disruptors and protesters who have done their best to make it difficult for us to do our work in the last 2½ years, in their own words: I yield the rest of my time. F— you," Koretz said, a smile creeping across his face.

His fellow council members burst into applause, as a few staffers behind him jumped up and down clapping. Several other council members appeared to give the speech a standing ovation.

"I just have to say, I didn't warn Gail or anyone else that I was going to say that," Koretz said, referring to his wife.

The pairing of yielding one's time with an expletive was popularized during a June 2020 L.A. Police Commission meeting held after days of protest in the wake of George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer, and it became a catchphrase among certain watchers of municipal politics.

During that meeting, many speakers called on Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore to resign because of his remark referring to people who burglarized businesses during the protests that Floyd’s death was "on their hands, as much as it is on those [Minneapolis] officers."

Moore apologized for the remark and walked it back, but the virtual meeting remained tense as officials heard caller after caller demand the chief's resignation, say he was unfit for the job and voice concerns about the department and the state of policing in Los Angeles.

But it was the comments by Jeremy Frisch, nearly eight hours into the meeting, that stood out.

Rehearsed until they fit into a roughly 30-second window, Frisch's words grew progressively angrier as he called out excessive force used against peaceful protesters.

He addressed Moore, calling the chief a "disgrace," and ended his comments with: "I yield my time. F— you."

People's City Council co-founder Ricci Sergienko said the phrase went viral after Frisch's remarks during the Police Commission meeting.

Protesters have since referenced it in a jokey way, but it speaks to serious topics, Sergienko said. The activist said he found it ironic that Koretz cursed in the chamber after so many calls for decorum from members of the council in response to protests.

On Twitter, some people described the outgoing council member's use of the phrase as "sad," while others called out his attempt to co-opt a phrase that was used to protest police violence. Several people simply tweeted images of the vote tally for Koretz's failed bid for L.A. city controller.

Protesters have been a constant presence at council meetings in recent months following leaked audio of a racist 2021 conversation among Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Nury Martinez and Kevin de León and Ron Herrera, then-president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

The protesters' frequent chants have promised to keep interrupting meetings until both Cedillo and De León resign. The LAPD’s process for removing the protesters — usually one by one or in pairs — typically consumes the first 45 minutes of each meeting.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.