LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Nury Martinez is taking a leave of absence from the Los Angeles City Council after an audio recording was leaked in which she made racist comments.
“This was one of the most difficult times of my life and I acknowledge that it was entirely my own making. At this moment, I must take a leave of absence and some time to have an honest and heartfelt conversation with my family, my constituents, and community leaders. I feel so sorry for the residents of Council District 6, my colleagues and the City of Los Angeles,” she said in a statement Tuesday morning.
Since the release of this leaked preservation with other council members, Martinez has resigned as president of the LA City Council. However, calls for her complete resignation have only intensified among the general public and her colleagues on the Council.
This is breaking news and will be updated. A previous version is below.
Nury Martinez has resigned as Los Angeles City Council President 24 hours after a leaked audio recording revealed that she and Councilman Kevin de León had made racist comments.
Martinez released the following statement Monday morning:
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It’s unclear if Martinez will vacate her council seat or if she’s just stepping down from her role as president.
Leaked audio from an October 2021 conversation was released on Sunday when an anonymous user posted it on Reddit. In it, Martinez could be heard referring to Councilor Mike Bonin’s black son with a racial slur in Spanish, and referring to his misconduct during a parade, noting, “This kid needs a caning.”
The comments were made during a call attended by Councilor Gil Cedillo de León and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, which focused on the politically sensitive process of redefining council district boundaries. Their conversation also touched on efforts to replace council member Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has been indicted on federal corruption charges.
Bonin and many other LA leaders called for Martinez and de León to resign.
“We are appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted that Nury Martinez has attacked our son with horrific racial slurs and spoken out about her desire to physically harm him,” Bonin wrote in a statement with his partner Sean Arian. “It is abhorrent, abhorrent and utterly disgraceful.”
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Bonin says his son was under 3 years old at the time of the 2017 parade mentioned in the conversation.
Bonin also called on de León and Herrera – who were involved in the talk – to step down from their posts. Herrera resigned Monday night, Eyewitness News learned.
Bonin said he was also upset by the “tacit acceptance” of the remarks made by Cedillo, who was also present.
De León apologized on Sunday.
“Comments were made in connection with this meeting that are totally inappropriate; and I regret that I appear to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments about a colleague and his family in private. I reached out to this colleague personally,” he said. “On that day, I failed to live up to the expectations we set for our leaders – and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”
Among other things, Martinez berated Bonin, who is white and has a black son, and criticized the child for his behavior at a Martin Luther King Day parade, saying Bonin’s son misbehaved on a float that might have overturned if she and the other women on the float did not step in to “bring up this child.”
“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez said. “I figured this boy needed a spanking. Let me bring him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”
Martinez also named the kid “ese changuito,” Spanish for “little monkey.”
De León also criticized Bonin. “Mike Bonin will never bleep about Latinos. He’ll never say a damn word about us,” he said.
De León compared Bonin’s handling of his son at the MLK parade to “when Nury brings her little garden bag or the Louis Vuitton bag”.
“your blacklike by the way,” Martinez added, using a Spanish term for a black person that many consider demeaning.
Cedillo, who was present at the call but is said not to have made any offensive comments himself, apologized for not intervening:
“First of all, I would like to apologize. Although I did not participate in the conversation in question, I was present at times during this meeting last year. It is my instinct to hold others accountable when they use derogatory or racially divisive language. Clearly I should have intervened. I have failed to hold others and myself at the highest level. The hurtful and hurtful comments made about my colleague’s son were simply unacceptable. We choose public life, but our families should always be off limits and never be part of the political discourse.”
Council members can also be heard in the recording talking about the Koreatown neighborhood.
“I see a lot of short, dark people,” Martinez said, referring to a specific area of the mostly Hispanic Koreatown neighborhood. She was apparently referring to indigenous immigrants from Oaxaca.
“I was like, I don’t know where these people are from, I don’t know what village they came from, how they got here,” Martinez said, adding, “Tan feos” — “They’re ugly. “
Civil rights groups and other city leaders have issued statements condemning the comments, and some have called for disciplinary action against council members.
“The Los Angeles I love is a welcoming and nurturing place,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “As a mayor, as a father and as Angeleno, what I read makes me sad. In our town family there is no place for attacks on co-workers and their loved ones, and there is no place for racism anywhere in LA. Everyone in our city deserves to feel safe and treated with equal respect. These words do not correspond to these values.”
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Councilor Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Rep. Isaac Bryan, mentioned during the call, spoke out Monday afternoon calling for the full resignations of Cedillo, De León and Martinez.
“These are people I work with, people I was colleagues with, people I considered allies and friends, and I think what we heard on the tape disqualifies them from service on the Los Angeles City Council.” said Harris. Dawson, who believes the recordings were released through what he called a “worker-worker conflict.”
“We can’t have a city council that we go into every day, there’s someone sitting there calling a black kid a monkey,” he said. “It’s unsustainable, it’s against the City of Los Angeles, it’s not who we want to be. I don’t even believe who it is [Martinez] wants us to be.”
Bryan said the footage suggested he was anti-work, which he says “contradicts the values I hold for working people.”
“I think my name was rattled on the Council District 10 call [Assemblyman] Reggie Jones-Sawyer’s name as they discussed allies and enemies and this nomination process,” Bryan said. “But overall I’m injured today. I think most Angelenos are injured today. I think most people in California are hurt today, so I’m grateful to the Latino leaders in the community who have stood up and condemned these statements. I am grateful to the union leaders who have stood up and condemned these statements.”
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The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials called the comments appalling, heartbreaking and unacceptable.
“First of all, there is absolutely no place, zero place, for racism among anyone in the public sector,” said Erica Bernal-Martinez of NALEAO. “Because Los Angeles is as diverse as the city, we face very complex challenges that impact the daily lives of Angelenos.”
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