Nury Martinez resigns as President of the Los Angeles City Council following racist remarks

Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera were part of a leaked conversation in which they disparaged Councilman Mike Bonin’s child, among making other comments.

Nury Martinez, President of the Los Angeles City Council, resigned on Monday following allegations that she made racist remarks in a chat with three other city leaders.

According to the Los Angeles Times, audio of the chat — which also included Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, as well as Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera — was first shared on Reddit several days ago by a user who since been suspended. It is unknown who recorded the talk, which is alleged to have occurred in October 2021.

Nury Martinez
Nury Martinez

Martinez, who resigned as president but kept her council seat, told the Times in a statement that she was “deeply ashamed” of her behavior.

“I beg pardon from my colleagues and the citizens of this city that I adore,” she added. “In the end, it will be my actions from now on that matter the most, not my apologies.” I hope you will give me the chance to make amends. As a result, I am quitting as President of the Los Angeles City Council effective immediately.”

The recording shows the group purportedly discussing Councilman Mike Bonin’s child. Bonan is white, while his kid is African-American.

Martinez is said to have called Bonin’s youngster “Parece changuito,” which translates as “He’s like a monkey.” She also mentioned that Bonin took part in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day procession with his son, riding on a float with numerous politicians, and referred to the boy as “an accessory.” She went on to add that the child was misbehaving on the float and that she and other ladies had to intervene to “raise this kid.”

Councilman Kevin de León, left, and Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez confer at city council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. 
Councilman Kevin de León, left, and Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez confer at city council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.

Martinez allegedly stated, “They’re rearing him like a little white kid.” “I was thinking, ‘This child needs a beating.'” Allow me to take him around the corner and then return him.”

According to reports, De León compared Bonin’s treatment of his son to “when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag.” He also reportedly called Bonin the “fourth Black member” of the council.

The group also discussed Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, the focus of a recall effort that ultimately failed in August of this year when organizers were not able to supply enough valid signatures to move forward

“Fuck that guy,” Martinez allegedly said in the audio, adding: “He’s with the Blacks.”

Martinez apologized when the Times published its report. “I allowed the situation get the best of me in a time of tremendous irritation and fury, and I hold myself responsibility for these words.” “I apologise,” she told the Times, adding, “the context of this chat was worry about the redistricting process and the possible harmful impact on communities of colour.” My work is self-explanatory. I’ve worked hard to guide this city through its worst hour.”

In his own statement, De León stated that the comments were “wholly improper” and that he had fallen “below of the expectations we set for our leaders.”

“I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private,” he told the Times. “I’ve reached out to that colleague personally.”

Cedillo initially told the Times that he didn’t recall the conversation, but later Sunday issued his own apology.

“While I did not engage in the conversation in question, I was present at times during this meeting last year. It is my instinct to hold others accountable when they use derogatory or racially divisive language,” he said. “Clearly, I should have intervened. I failed in holding others and myself to the highest standard. The hurtful and harmful remarks made about my colleague’s son were simply unacceptable.”

Herrera did not reply to calls for comment from the New York Times.

In response, Bonin and his husband, Sean Arian, published their own statement on Sunday, urging Martinez, De León, and Herrera to quit.

“We are outraged, indignant, and disgusted that Nury Martinez attacked our son with vile racist remarks and expressed a wish to physically injure him.” “It’s horrible, abhorrent, and completely disgraceful,” they said.

Their statement continued: “We love our son, a beautiful, joyful child, and our family is hurting today. No child should ever be subjected to such racist, mean and dehumanizing comments, especially from a public official. It is painful to know he will someday read these comments.… It hurts that one of our son’s earliest encounters with overt racism comes from some of the most powerful public officials in Los Angeles. As parents of a Black child, we condemn the entirety of the recorded conversation, which displayed a repeated and vulgar anti-Black sentiment, and a coordinated effort to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles. 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.”