Merced group calls for resignation of city councilmember

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MERCED, California (KSEE) – A crowd of people took to Merced’s City Council meeting Monday to demand the resignation of Council Member Fernando Echevarria.

The group also made calls to defund the city’s police department.

“We may not have put you all up here, but we’ll get you all off of here,” said one man during public comment.

The group, Merced People of Color, asked participants to wear black and meet at the Civic Center before going into the council meeting.

“When a councilman continually violates the code of conduct and the code of ethics, their values, and their own mission statement, which are all created by them, where’s the accountability?” Gabriela Spiva said.

Spiva was one of a few dozen community members who expressed frustrations with Echevarria, who was not at the meeting.

Their anger stems from a video dated June 7 which appears to show Echevarria demonstrating a police restraint move resembling a chokehold. He’s heard saying “I can’t breathe,” and getting into a confrontation.

“We’re demanding he step down. We’re demanding he resign. There is no ask. I think I want to clarify that. Because when I ask it sounds like I’m saying you know ‘Please, I would prefer,’ but you are a councilman. You serve us,” Spiva said.

Spiva said they are also calling for the defunding of police and redistribution of the money into the community. 

“There are so many different places where you could be putting this money that align with how we all view Merced and how I hope you all view Merced,” said a woman who spoke to the council members.

More than a dozen people signed up to speak. One of the demonstrators said a petition to defund the police now has more than 2,000 signatures.

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