Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez resigned as president after making racially insensitive remarks in leaked audio.
To this point, she will still have a seat in the council, but without the active role of president.
The leaked audio was posted to the content aggregation website, Reddit, and later removed and had conversations between Nury Martinez, council members Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
In a statement, Martinez said:
“I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments. I’m so sorry.”
“I sincerely apologize to the people I hurt with my words: to my colleagues, their families, especially to Mike, Sean, and your son. As a mother, I know better and I am sorry. I am truly ashamed. I know this is the result of my own actions. I’m sorry to your entire family for putting you through this.
“As someone who believes deeply in the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize my comments undercut that goal. Going forward, reconciliation will be my priority. I have already reached out to many of my Black colleagues and other Black leaders to express my regret in order for us to heal.
“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.”
Through different points of the audio, which was originally obtained by the Los Angeles Times and eventually spread through social media, Martinez can be heard addressing District Attorney George Gascon, saying, “Fuck that guy. He’s with the Blacks,” and later described Councilman Mike Bonin’s child, who is Black, as a “changuito,” which translates to “monkey” in English, later alluding to taking him “to the back” because he “needs a beatdown.”
Soonafter Martinez made an apology for what she said in the audio, Bonin released a statement addressing what was said about his son and called for Martinez to be removed from the council.
“We are appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted that Nury Martinez attacked our son with horrific racist slurs, and talked about her desire to physically harm him. It’s vile, abhorrent, and utterly disgraceful,” Bonin said. “The City Council needs to remove her as Council President immediately, and she needs to resign from office. Any parent reading her comments will know she is unfit for public office.”
Councilman de Leon also apologized for his involvement in the audio, where he can be heard comparing Black protesters to “The Wizard of Oz,” saying they sound like thousands of people, “but when you actually pull the curtain… you see the little Wizard of Oz.”
“On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders – and I will hold myself to a higher standard,” de Leon said in a statement. “There were comments made in the context of this meeting that are wholly inappropriate; and I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private. I’ve reached out to that colleague personally.”
Portions of the audio included conversations about the Oaxacan, or Indigenous American community in Los Angeles, with Councilman Cedillo making remarks about their stature and Martinez calling them “feos” or ugly.
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