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City Council Hopeful Joe Bray-Ali Left Trail Of Transphobic, Fat-Shaming Comments In Newly Uncovered Online Posts
LAist has learned that Joe Bray-Ali, the small business owner and bike activist giving City Council incumbent Gil Cedillo a run for his District 1 seat, is the author behind several provocative online posts on a Reddit-like online forum called Voat. As recently as a little over a year ago, Bray-Ali made comments on a racist forum called "v/Niggers," as well as comments on "v/FATPEOPLEHATE," a forum devoted to mocking overweight individuals. Bray-Ali also wrote on a separate Voat thread that gender reassignment surgery for transgender individuals should be "criticized as a shameful excess."
Bray-Ali has confirmed that he made the comments in question, and apologized for their content. He also deleted all his comments on Voat sometime late Tuesday night or very early Wednesday morning (the links below now just link to the threads where he commented; see screenshots for Bray-Ali's actual comments).
Bray-Ali, who’s earned two endorsements for his run from the Los Angeles Times, isn’t new to controversial comments made online. As the Times reported last week, the candidate apologized through his spokesperson, Michael Atkins, to anyone who may have been offended by a 2008 video in which Bray-Ali asked why his Mexican neighbors “think that their car's horn is a doorbell.” The question was originally posed to Gustavo Arellano’s O.C. Weekly column “Ask a Mexican;” Atkins told the Times that “social media can remind of the mistakes of youth,” indicating that the video was made nine years ago.
Much more recently, under the username ubrayj02—which the CD1 candidate has used as his MySpace, Flickr, and YouTube handle for more than a decade—Bray-Ali made a number of offensive comments on Voat.
Bray-Ali participated on a forum called “/v/Niggers/,” where he commented on several videos of black youth fighting with headlines such as “Elementary Zoo fight” and “Sheboons fighting at a gas station,” discussing their brawling skills as well as commenting on their appearances. On one video, Bray-Ali says that “the cameraman is a fucking retard,” when describing the quality of a video depicting a fight in a Maryland mall.
Bray-Ali has also engaged in Voat's “v/FATPEOPLEHATE” forum, including leaving a disparaging comment just one year ago on a post about the rape of a minor. A similar "FATPEOPLEHATE" forum was originally housed on Reddit, but it migrated to Voat after it was banned from Reddit in 2015 when the site adopted anti-harassment policies.
On Voat’s question forum, someone asks, “If it was legal to sell your vote, would you sell it, and how much would you be willing to settle for?” Bray-Ali responds that “your vote has a price,” explaining that campaign advertisements add up. In a later comment, he says that “$100 is a pretty fair estimate” of a vote’s value. That comment was made nearly two years ago, before Bray-Ali announced his candidacy.
In a separate forum, under a thread about how "Ricky Gervais doesn't care if people thought his Golden Globes routine was 'transphobic,'" Bray-Ali commented that gender reassignment surgery for transgender individuals "doesn't seem like something worthy of praise, but instead of being criticized as a shameful excess."
"This is an election about important issues. I have put the fight for a better future in jeopardy because of my personal mistakes," Bray-Ali told LAist on Wednesday morning. "Looking back on the comments, I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I apologize to my wife, daughter, family, and community for putting them in this situation. My commitment to being accountable and of service to the community continues."
Joe Bray-Ali’s Blogspot, Brayj Against The Machine—whose URL also contains the ubrayj02 handle—was scrubbed a few days ago. The remaining post is dated April 20, and it greets what Bray-Ali calls Gil Cedillo’s opposition research team. “I am sure you've already copied what you need to slime me,” it reads. “Enjoy the rest of this political race! I know I am.”
Bray-Ali’s Reddit account, meanwhile, has been deleted.
Update [Thursday, 11:10 a.m.]: Both Councilman Mitch O'Farrell and the East Area Progressive Democrats club have pulled their endorsements of Bray-Ali.
Aura Bogado is a writer based in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in various publications including The Guardian, The Nation, Mother Jones, Salon, and Colorlines. She tweets at @aurabogado.