LA City Councilwoman Nury Martinez has announced a leave of absence after leaked audio captured her making vile and racist remarks about the Black community and some of her colleagues. The announcement comes one day after she relinquished her presidency on the Council.
Many LA officials, state lawmakers, and organizations like the NAACP say it's not enough. They want everyone on the tape — Martinez, Councilman Gil Cedillo, Councilman Kevin de León, and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera — to resign.
Audio of the conversation can be heard at Knock LA. It took place during discussions about redistricting in 2021. The four discussed how to redraw districts in a way that would maximize their political power and that of the Latino community. They also aired grievances about the Black community's political clout.
At one point, Martinez referred to Councilman Mike Bonin’s Black son as “parece changuito,” or like a monkey. She also called him “negrito,” a derogatory term for a Black person.
De León joked that Bonin’s son was the equivalent of a designer handbag for his father. Herrera compared him to a lawn jockey. After witnessing the boy’s behavior during a float parade, Martinez said she wanted to give the child a “beat-down.” He was only two years old at the time.
Martinez also referred to Bonin as a “little bitch.” Of LA District Atty. George Gascón, Martinez said “F— that guy… he’s with the Blacks.” She also made disparaging remarks about people from Oaxaca, Mexico, calling them short and ugly.
There was a time when resignations would have been immediate. As of Tuesday morning, however, Martinez, de León, and Cedillo were still on the Council. Herrera is expected to step down from his labor position today.
Martinez offered an apology, while also appearing to defend herself.
“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,” she said. “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.”
De León acknowledged he had fallen “short of the expectations we set for our leaders,” but did not offer to step down.
“I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private,” he said, apparently referring to Bonin. “I’ve reached out to that colleague personally.”
Those calling for the resignations of the people on the tape include LA Mayor Eric Garcetti; LA mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso; the Los Angeles Democratic Party; LAUSD Supt. Alberto Carvalho; Senator Alex Padilla; City Attorney Mike Feuer and his would-be successors Faisal Gil and Hydee Feldstein Soto; the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board; and council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Heather Hutt, Nithya Raman, Paul Koretz, Monica Rodriguez, and Mike Bonin.