UPDATED, 2:40 p.m.: Mayoral candidates Rick Caruso and Karen Bass have called on the three council members who were caught on tape in a conversation last year to resign from office.
The current mayor, Eric Garcetti, also called on elected officials to resign, joining a number of other prominent political figures, including Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who has also called on them to leave.
Nury Martinez, the president of the Los Angeles City Council, resigned from that post earlier on Monday, but not from her council seat.
The leaked audio was a conversation that included Martinez, Councilmen Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Martinez used a Spanish term to describe City Councilman Mike Bonin’s black son as a “monkey,” and she also mocked Oaxacan immigrants.
Caruso called on the three to resign Monday morning, shortly after Martinez’s announcement.
“I call on City Council President Nury Martinez to do the right thing and resign immediately,” he said. “I think Councilman Kevin DeLeon should do the same, as should my friend, Councilman Gill Cedillo. I believe in their hearts they are better people than the vile comments we heard on that tape.”
Later Monday, Bass also called for the three council members to resign and also called for Herrera to leave her post. She said she would convene on Tuesday “a diverse group of leaders from across the city to lay out a plan of action to move us toward unity and progress.”
“To move forward as a city, we have to move past the politics of divide and rule,” she said. “There is no room for division and hatred in Los Angeles.”
A number of their council colleagues have also called on them to resign.
The sound has triggered an unprecedented crisis in the citizens’ leadership, as the town hall has already been rocked by a series of corruption scandals.
At the county level, there has been disagreement between the sheriff, Alex Villanueva, and one of his critics on the Board of Supervisors, Sheila Kuehl. His office executed a search warrant at her home last month after what they said was part of an ongoing corruption investigation. But Kuehl told reporters it was part of a “bogus, non-investigation.”
On Monday, Kuehl also called for Martinez, Cedillo, de León and Herrera to leave.
EARLIER, 10:23 AM: Nury Martinez resigned as Los Angeles City Council president on Monday, a day after the revelation of a leaked audio in which she used racist terms, including one about the son of one of her council colleagues.
Martinez remains in her city council seat, though some have called for her to step down from that post as well.
“I ask for forgiveness from my colleagues and from the residents of this city, which I love so much. In the end, it’s not my apologies that matter most; those will be the actions I take from this day forward,” she said in a statement. “I hope you will give me the opportunity to make amends.”
In the audio recording, taken of a conversation last year between Martinez, council members Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, as well as Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Martinez used a Spanish term to describe City Councilman Mike Bonin’s black son as a “monkey,” and she also mocked Oaxacan immigrants.
“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.”
Bonin called on Martinez to step down from his seat along with De Leon.
Rick Caruso, who ran for mayor in the city’s November election, also called on Martinez and De Leon to step down from their offices, along with Cedillo. The latter supported Caruso.
“Being a leader means taking full responsibility for your actions,” Caruso said. “At this important moment for our city, anything less than resignation completely fails this test.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was “encouraged that those involved in this have apologized and are beginning to take responsibility for their actions.” But he did not call for termination.
“These comments have no place in our state or in our politics, and we must all model better behavior to live up to the values that so many of us fight every day to protect,” he said.
EARLIER: Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin called on council members Nury Martinez and Kevin de Leon to resign following the revelation of a leaked audio recording of Martinez making racist remarks about Bonin’s son.
The sound — obtained by thand the Los Angeles Times here — has shaken the city council, which in recent years has already been the focus of a number of corruption scandals. Police Chief Michel Moore called it a “dark day for our City of Angels.”
In the audio, which surfaced on Reddit, Martinez, the council president, called Bonin’s black son “looks like changuito” or like a monkey. She can also be heard saying, “They’re raising him like a little white kid, which I was like, ‘This kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and I’ll bring him back.'” She also referred to Bonin as the “little bitch.”
De Leon seemed to agree with Martinez’s comparison of Bonin’s child to an accessory, noting that it was like holding a Louis Vuitton handbag, according to Times. He also appeared to refer to black political power as the “Wizard of Oz” effect, suggesting that their representation is outsized because “they shout like they’re 250 when there’s a hundred of us.”
Martinez was also heard berating George Gascon, the Los Angeles district attorney, saying, “He’s with the blacks.” She was also heard mocking Oaxacans.
The conversation took place last year when Martinez, de Leon and Councilman Gil Cedillo were engaged in a redistricting talk with Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
Protesters appeared outside Martinez’s home Sunday night and played parts of the audio on a loudspeaker.
Bonin also called for Herrera’s resignation, calling Cedillo “tacit acceptance” of the remarks.
“It pains me that one of our son’s earliest encounters with overt racism comes from some of the most powerful public officials in Los Angeles,” Bonin said in a statement.
The audio revelations have also affected the Los Angeles mayoral race, as Rick Caruso and Karen Bass each issued statements condemning the remarks. Caruso tried to link the scandal to Bass herself, noting that “most people” in the conversation supported her. But Cedillo gave his support to Caruso.
“This whole situation shows that City Hall is fundamentally broken and dysfunctional,” Caruso said in a statement.
Bass said what was heard on the recordings was “appalling, anti-black racism.”
“Our city is in crisis. Homelessness is out of control, crime is on the rise and Angelenos are being priced out of their hometown,” she said. “The challenges we face already threaten to tear us apart, and now this hateful and shocking conversation among some of our city’s most powerful leaders could divide us even more.”
In a statement to the media, Martinez said: “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. I am sorry.”
She added, “The context of this conversation was concern about the redistricting process and concern about the potential negative impact it could have on communities of color.”
De Leon said he regrets that he appeared to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments about a colleague and his family in private. I have contacted that colleague personally. That day I did not live up to the expectations we set for our leaders – and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”
Cedillo apologized for not intervening. “I failed to hold others and myself to the highest standard,” he said. “The hurtful and harmful remarks about my colleague’s son were simply unacceptable. We choose public life, but our families should always be off limits and never part of the political discourse.”
Council members Paul Koretz and Nithya Raman also called on Martinez to resign. The state and local NAACP called on Martinez and all council members involved to resign.
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor fired off a legal letter to Times through his attorney, claiming the conversation was recorded in violation of state privacy laws on the organization’s property. But according to Timesits lawyer Jeffrey Glasser responded by writing, “It is a fundamental principle of the United States that we do not prohibit or punish the receipt and publication of newsworthy information.”
The Reddit audio was also posted on the progressive site KnockLA.