By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez resigned from her leadership post Monday following leaked audio that sparked statewide outrage over racist comments she made about another council member’s son. It remains unclear, however, if she will resign from her council seat.
“I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments. I’m so sorry,” Ms. Martinez said in a statement Monday. “I ask for forgiveness from my colleagues and from the residents of this city that I love so much.”
The leaked audio, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, featured a conversation between Ms. Martinez, Council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. During much of the conversation, which took place in October 2021, the Latino leaders discussed concerns about the maps proposed by the city’s redistricting commission, the Times reported.
But at one point in the conversation, officials began discussing Council member Mike Bonin, who is white. In clips of leaked audio shared by the Times, Ms. Martinez called Bonin a “little b**ch” and said he “thinks he’s f**king Black.” Another council member then chimed in, pointing out that Councilmember Bonin’s son is Black.
During the conversation, Ms. Martinez referred to Councilmember Bonin’s son as an “accessory.” She also described him as “parece changuito,” or “like a monkey,” recounting a time when the child appeared on a float in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. Ms. Martinez said the child was “hanging on the rails.”
“They’re raising him like a little white kid, which I was like, this kid needs a beat down,” Ms. Martinez said. “Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”
Councilmember De León also chimed in at one point during the conversation, appearing to compare Councilmember Bonin’s handling of his son to Ms. Martinez carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, the LA Times reported.
Councilmember Bonin and his family issued a statement Sunday saying they were “appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted that Nury Martinez attacked our son with horrific racist slurs, and talked about her desire to physically harm him.”
“No child should ever be subjected to such racist, mean and dehumanizing comments, especially from a public official,” the statement continued.
Ms. Martinez issued an apology Sunday, but announced that she immediately resigned from her position as city council president on Monday.
“I sincerely apologize to the people I hurt with my words: to my colleagues, their families, especially to Mike, Sean, and your son,” Ms. Martinez said in a statement. “As a mother, I know better and I am sorry.”
Councilmember De León also issued an apology statement Sunday, calling the comments “wholly inappropriate” and saying he regrets “appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private,” according to NBC Los Angeles.
There were mounting calls from Los Angeles organizations and officials for councilmembers Councilmember de León and Councilmember Cedillo to resign as well. The leaders of SEIU California with Los Angeles area membership issued a joint statement Monday saying Councilmember de León, Councilmember Cedillo and Mr. Herrera should resign from their positions after they “failed the test of leadership.”
The leaked audio provoked outrage from officials across the state and led to several members of the Los Angeles City Council to call for Ms. Martinez’s resignation. Before Ms. Martinez announced her resignation as council president, Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez issued a statement on Monday condemning the remarks and saying she directed the council’s chief legislative analyst to “draft a motion calling for the removal of the Council President.”
“I will introduce that motion tomorrow, so that we can begin the work of healing and uniting our communities,” Councilmember Rodriguez said.The leaked audio came just a few weeks before the Nov. 8 election where the mayor and several city council seats are up for grabs. Los Angeles Mayoral candidates Rick Caruso and Karen Bass condemned the remarks made in the leaked audio, with Mr. Caruso saying he wanted to see not just Ms. Martinez resign, but Councilmember De León and Councilmember Cedillo as well.