The Los Angeles City Council president announced her resignation on Monday after recently leaked audio revealed her hurling racist comments a couple of colleague and his Black child.
Council President Nury Martinez released an announcement saying her resignation is effective immediately — a day after The Los Angeles Times reported on the audio clips the outlet says are from October 2021.
“I sincerely apologize to the people I hurt with my words: to my colleagues, their families, especially to Mike, Sean, and your son,” she said, referring to fellow councilmember Mike Bonin and his husband Sean Arian.
“As a mother, I do know higher and I’m sorry. I’m truly ashamed. I do know that is the results of my very own actions. I’m sorry to your entire family for putting you thru this.”
“As someone who believes deeply within the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize my comments undercut that goal,” Martinez continued. “Going forward, reconciliation will probably be my priority. I even have already reached out to lots of my Black colleagues and other Black leaders to precise my regret to ensure that us to heal.”
The audio reportedly involved Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. The councilmembers were expressing irritation concerning the maps proposed by town’s redistricting commission. In line with the LA Times, they desired to “make sure that heavily Latino districts didn’t lose economic assets.”
It was during that conversation the officials brought up Bonin. In audio clips posted by the LA Times, Martinez will be heard saying that her fellow councilmember, a white man, is a “little bitch” and “thinks he’s fucking Black.”
Within the recording, Martinez says that Bonin brought his son, who’s Black, on a float throughout the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. parade — saying he “handled” his son like an “accessory.” De León responded by comparing Bonin’s handling of his son to Martinez holding a luxury handbag.
The council president also complained about Bonin’s son’s behavior on the float, saying the councilmember is raising his child “like just a little white kid.”
Martinez then compared Bonin’s son to a monkey in Spanish and added, “I used to be like, this kid needs a beat down, like let me take him across the corner after which I’ll bring him back.”
In one other recording, Martinez and Cedillo are heard talking about Oaxacan and Indigenous people in Los Angeles being “little short dark people,” a racist stereotype targeting people from southern Mexico.
“I used to be like, I don’t know where these individuals are from, I don’t know what village they got here [from], how they came,” the council president said before calling them “feos,” or “ugly.”
De León called the comments “wholly inappropriate” and told the Times he fell short “of the expectations we set for our leaders.”
Cedillo told CNN that he must have intervened within the “simply unacceptable” remarks about Bonin’s son and failed at “holding others and myself to the very best standard.”
Herrera released an announcement apologizing to Bonin’s family, his family, his staff and the Black and Oaxacan communities — adding that the calls for accountability are “loud, clear, and deserved.”
Before Martinez’s announcement on Monday, a minimum of 4 of her colleagues on the council had demanded she resign — Nithya Raman, Paul Koretz, Joe Buscaino and Bonin himself. Protesters stood outside Martinez’s home on Sunday night demanding her resignation and playing the leaked audio on a loudspeaker, in accordance with Knock LA.
Bonin released an announcement slamming Martinez for her comments. He added that he’s “equally offended and disgusted by the ugly racist comments” by de León and Herrera, and by “the tacit acceptance of those remarks” from Cedillo. He also called on the City Council to remove Martinez as president and demanded she, de León and Herrera resign from office.
“We love our son, an attractive, joyful child, and our family is hurting today. No child should ever be subjected to such racist, mean and dehumanizing comments, especially from a public official. It’s painful to know he’ll someday read these comments,” Bonin said.
“As parents of a Black child, we condemn the whole thing of the recorded conversation, which displayed a repeated and vulgar anti-Black sentiment, and a coordinated effort to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles,” he continued. “The conversation revealed several layers of contempt for the people of Los Angeles, and a cynical, ugly desire to divide the City reasonably than serve it.”
Bonin’s husband individually responded to the incident.
“The very first thing I learned as a political spouse just isn’t to reply,” Arian tweeted. “But I cannot stay silent when someone attacks my beautiful child. And none of us must be silent within the face of such disgusting anti-Black racism.”
The audio leaked a couple of month before town’s Nov. 8 election during which the mayor and multiple council seats are up for grabs. Martinez endorsed several candidates within the election, including Democratic contender Karen Bass for mayor.
Bass, who’s Black, condemned town officials’ behavior but stopped wanting demanding their resignations.
“Let me be clear about what was on those tapes: appalling, anti-Black racism,” the previous congresswoman said in an announcement. “I even have devoted my life to bringing people together to maneuver us forward. For greater than 30 years, I even have built alliances between Los Angeles’ Black and Latino communities to extend our neighborhoods’ health, safety and prosperity.”
“I firmly imagine that we are able to overcome our shared challenges by uniting around our shared values, and in a various and dynamic city like Los Angeles, that’s our only path forward.”