On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times published a bombshell story about racist and homophobic slurs caught on an audio recording of a 2021 meeting between LA City Council President Nury Martinez, LA City Council members Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, and LA Labor Federation President Ron Herrera. The meeting’s topic was proposed redistricting maps for the LA City Council and was held at LA Labor Federation’s offices, according to an update to the LA Times article. Just over 24 hours later, Martinez has resigned.
Martinez issued a statement making the announcement:
“I ask for forgiveness from my colleagues and from the residents of this city that I love so much. In the end, it is not my apologies that matter most; it will be the actions I take from this day forward. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to make amends. Therefore, effective immediately I am resigning as President of the Los Angeles City Council.”
It’s worth noting that all involved are Democrats; there are no Republicans on the current LA City Council. (Council member John Lee was elected as a Republican, but left the party in 2020 and is currently listed as no party preference.)
As Bob Hoge wrote Sunday evening, the topics ranged from expressing dislike of District Attorney George Gascon (“f**k that guy; he’s with the blacks”) to calling City Council member Mike Bonin, a gay man, a “little bitch,” and describing Bonin’s adopted son, who is black, a “little monkey.” In addition:
Martinez said that Bonin appeared with his son on a float in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade that featured a number of politicians. She also said the child was “an accessory.”
De Le?n seemed to compare Bonin’s handling of the child to “when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag.”
“Su negrito, like on the side,” Martinez said, using a Spanish diminutive term for a Black person that can be considered demeaning. Martinez suggested the child was misbehaving on the float and might have tipped over the float if she and the other women on the float didn’t step in to “parent this kid.” “They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez said. “I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”
Although many observers thought this would just be another scandal in which no one would be held accountable, by Sunday afternoon there were loud calls from influential Democrats for everyone involved to resign.
A large group of Latino protesters in Martinez’s district showed up at her house Sunday evening playing audio of her comments from a loudspeaker and demanding her resignation. A (Democrat) congressional candidate in the area even showed up promising to help anyone who wanted to run against Martinez.
Prior to her election to the City Council in 2013, Martinez was a LA Unified School District Trustee, making her comments about a young child (Bonin’s son was two years old at the time the incidents Martinez was talking about occurred) all the more offensive according to protesters.
Ignoring the main point of the audio, (at least according to the person who posted it on Reddit), that Big Labor is intimately involved with all of the goings on at City Hall, California Labor Federation leader Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (yes, that Lorena), had this to say:
What additional fallout occurs remains to be seen. Many veteran Los Angeles political observers believe the audio was leaked to hurt people viewed as more moderate Democrats in order to install council members who are even more aligned with organizations like BLM, the People’s City Council, and Democratic Socialists of America.