Members of the Los Angeles City Council, including its president, have issued an apology after making racist comments about a fellow white colleague and his Black son in leaked audio obtained by the LA Times.
“In a moment of intense frustration and anger, I let the situation get the best of me and I hold myself accountable for these comments. For that I am sorry,” Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez said in a statement to CNN.
Initially posted to Reddit, the audio details a conversation between Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The majority of the conversation, which reportedly took place in October 2021, was centered around the council members’ frustration with a proposed redistricting plan and their need to “ensure that heavily Latino districts did not lose economic assets,” per the Times.
At one point in the audio, Martinez began to discuss fellow Councilmember Mike Bonin, who is white.
“Bonin thinks he’s f**king Black,” Martinez said, per the audio obtained by the Times.
Martinez went on to accuse Bonin of “handling his young Black son as though he were an accessory” when the father-son appeared on a float for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade.
Referencing Bonin’s child, Martinez also said “Parece changuito,” or “He’s like a monkey,” according to the Times.
In the leaked audio, the city council president also spoke about the Black boy’s behavior during the parade.
“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.”
After discussing Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, Martinez too remarked, “F*** that guy. He’s with the black.”
In her statement to CNN, Martinez said of her comments, “The context of this conversation was concern over the redistricting process and concern about the potential negative impact it might have on communities of color. My work speaks for itself. I’ve worked hard to lead this city through its most difficult time.”
Bonin and his husband, Sean Arian, are calling for Martinez to resign or be removed as president by the City 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,” the couple said in a joint statement.
Bonin and Arian said they were “equally angry and disgusted by the ugly racist comments about our son from Kevin de León and Ron Herrera, who should also resign their posts, and by the tacit acceptance of those remarks from Gil Cedillo.”
In a statement Sunday (October 9), Cedillo apologized for failing to intervene as fellow councilmembers used “derogatory” and “racially divisive language.”
De León said in a statement to CNN, “On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders – and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”
Despite the apologies, Bonin and Arian said the conversation highlighted “a coordinated effort to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles,” per CNN.
“The conversation revealed several layers of contempt for the people of Los Angeles, and a cynical, ugly desire to divide the City rather than serve it,” Bonin and Arian said in their statement.
Listen to the full audio here.
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