Los Angeles council chairman resigns after audio leaks of racist comments

Oct 10 (Reuters) – A Los Angeles city councilwoman resigned as council president on Monday after the release of an audio recording of her making racist and other derogatory comments, including remarks about the black son of a colleague.

Nury Martinez, a Democrat, apologized to fellow Democratic Councilman Mike Bonin and his family in a statement that announced her resignation would be effective immediately. She continues to represent Los Angeles’ sixth district.

Martinez came under fire after the Los Angeles Times reported comments she made during a taped meeting in October 2021 in which she said Bonin, who is white, treated her black son like he was an “accessory” and compared him with a “changuito,” which translates as “little monkey.” Bonin was not present.

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Martinez also disparaged Mexicans from Oaxaca and expressed her displeasure with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, saying “he’s with the blacks,” the Times reported.

“I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for these comments. I am so sorry,” Martinez said in the statement. “As someone who believes deeply in the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize that my comments fall short of that goal.”

Two other Democratic members of the council — Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León — and Labor Leader Ron Herrera, who resigned Monday night, were present during the conversation, according to the Times.

It reported that De León accused Bonin of not supporting Latinos and compared him to being the council’s “fourth black member.”

The three issued statements acknowledging that inappropriate remarks were made at the meeting, according to the Times.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor did not respond to a request for comment on Herrera’s resignation.

Bonin issued a statement Sunday calling on the City Council to remove Martinez as president and for her to resign from the legislative body.

“Any parent who reads her comments will know she is unfit for public office,” Bonin said.

The local chapter of the activist group Black Lives Matter said Martinez, Cedillo, de León and Herrera should step down from their posts.

Martinez was the first Latina to become president of the city council in January 2020, according to her office website. She was first elected to the city council in 2013.

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Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York. Additional reporting by Kanjyik Ghosh. Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Gerry Doyle

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