LA City Council member Nury Martinez is stepping down from office, two days after stepping down as leader



CNN

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez resigned from her seat in Council District 6, two days after resigning as president for making racist remarks.

“To my constituents – It has been a privilege to serve you, and I will not give that up easily. You are my neighbors, my friends and the reason for this service,” Martinez said in part in a Wednesday news release. “I hope that you remain committed and continue to fight for your fair share of the city’s resources. It’s hard to say goodbye, but please know that I was in this fight for you.”

“While I take time to look inward and reflect, I ask that you give me space and privacy,” the press release concluded.

CNN has reached out to Martinez’s office to find out if her resignation is effective immediately.

Her resignation comes days after audio posted online revealed she made racist comments about another council member’s family and said the colleague’s son “needs a beatdown.”

The remarks were part of leaked audio posted anonymously on Reddit and obtained by the Los Angeles Times. According to the newspaper, the audio describes a conversation between Martinez, council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, who resigned from his position Monday.

Martinez publicly apologized for her comments Monday and resigned from her post as council president. On Tuesday, she also took leave from the council.

Acting Council President Mitch O’Farrell called Martinez’s resignation Wednesday “the first, necessary step” toward accountability and called on de León and Cedillo to step down as well.

“There is no other way forward,” O’Farrell said in a statement.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called the resignation the “right decision,” adding that “racism and hate speech can never be overlooked.” The mayor also encouraged the two other council members to make the same decision.

California Governor Gavin Newsom also called the resignation the “right step” and said her comments “have no place in our state or in our politics, and we must all model better behavior to live the values ​​that so many of us fighting every day. to protect.”

Genaro Leal joins community members calling for the resignation of Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo in the City Hall Council Chambers in downtown Los Angeles on October 12, 2022.

A day earlier, O’Farrell had proposed several changes to help move the city forward during a loud and contentious council meeting — the first meeting since the scandal broke.

He suggested “major reform of the city charter, the city council and how we approach redistricting, representation — the issues at the center of this crisis” and called for expanding the council and an independent redistricting commission to map the representation of “the diverse metropolis.”

O’Farrell presented a proposal for a ballot that could be put to voters to decide whether to grow the council.

The number of members — 15 — hasn’t changed since 1925, when Los Angeles had less than 1 million residents, O’Farrell said.

The city’s population has since quadrupled, according to US Census data.

“This council should reflect and represent the residents we serve,” O’Farrell said. “A ballot measure that increases the number of council seats to help us achieve that goal and involve Angelenos in the process, just as an immediate redistricting process will do if people decide they want an expanded city council.”

When the council reconvenes, members will discuss another ballot measure that calls for an independent redistricting commission to determine set boundaries every 10 years.

A city council meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday was delayed until Friday, O’Farrell announced. The meeting was rescheduled after the council lost a quorum — a required 10 of 15 members — due to protesters who interrupted and chanted, “No resignation, no meeting” and “Stand down or we’ll shut down.”

Los Angeles City Council Acting President Mitch O'Farrell stressed the need for better representation on the council.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the leaked audio recorded conversation from October 2021 involving Martinez, Cedillo, de León and Herrera.

Much of the conversation focused on maps proposed by the city’s redistricting commission and council members’ frustration with them, as well as the need to “ensure that heavily Hispanic districts did not lose economic assets” in the once-in-a-decade process, according to the Times.

The council members then discussed Councilman Mike Bonin, a white man. In clips of the leaked audio released by the Times, Martinez is heard recounting a conversation, saying “Bonin thinks he’s black as hell.”

According to the Times, Martinez says Bonin showed up with her son on a float in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, and he “treated his young black son like he was an accessory.” The boy is 8 years old, according to a Facebook post by his father.

The Times reported that Martinez also said of Bonin’s child, “Parece changuito,” or “He’s like a monkey.”

In the leaked audio, Martinez can be heard talking about Bonin’s son, who allegedly misbehaved while in the parade by hanging from a railing on their float and saying “this kid is going to knock us over.”

“They’re raising him like a little white child,” Martinez said in the audio released by The Times. “I thought this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and I’ll bring him back.”

CNN has not been able to verify the audio recording. But the fallout has been swift.

Councilman Cedillo issued a public statement that he should have stepped in during the conversation.

“I want to start by apologizing. Although I did not participate in the conversation in question, I was present at times during this meeting last year,” Cedillo said Sunday. “It is my instinct to hold others accountable when they use derogatory or racial slurs language. Clearly, I should have intervened.”

Councilor de León also said he should have acted differently.

“That day I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard,” he said in a written statement Sunday.

“There were comments made in connection with this meeting that are completely inappropriate; and I regret that I appeared to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments about a colleague and his family in private. I have contacted that colleague personally.”

Officials near and far — including Sen. Dianne Feinstein and President Joe Biden — believe the council members who participated in the taped conversation should resign.

“At a time when our country has seen a steep increase in racially motivated hate crimes, it is critical that elected officials set a positive example on behalf of everyone they represent,” said Feinstein, the senior U.S. senator from California.

A motion to elect a new council president will be considered next Tuesday.

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