'It's not my apologies that matter most; it'll be the actions I take from this day forward'
Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez has stepped down one day after leaked audio contained racist remarks she made last year about a fellow council member and his son.
“I ask for forgiveness from my colleagues and from the residents of this city that I love so much,” Martinez said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “In the end, it is not my apologies that matter most; it will be the actions I take from this day forward. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to make amends. Therefore, effective immediately I am resigning as President of the Los Angeles City Council.”
It appears that she will remain on the 15-member legislative body, the Los Angeles Times reported.
On Sunday, leaked audio of a conversation from October 2021 between Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera was posted on Reddit.
According to the Los Angeles Times, which obtained the audio, the conversation shifts from the city’s redistricting maps to Councilmember Mike Bonin, a White man with a Black son. Martinez said, “Bonin thinks he’s f****** Black” and then recalled Bonin appearing with his son on a float in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade.
“He handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory,” Martinez said, adding “parece changuito,” which translates to “like a monkey.” Claiming the son was misbehaving during the parade, Martinez said, “They’re raising him like a little White kid. I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”
Protestors went to Martinez's home on Sunday, demanding her resignation.
RIGHT NOW: 🚨🚨🚨— People’s City Council - Los Angeles (@PplsCityCouncil) October 10, 2022
We are outside city council president Nury Martinez’s house right now. Community members are calling for @CD6Nury’s resignation.
There’s no coming back from this. Nury is DONE. #ResignNury pic.twitter.com/BjOa6dkJYG
“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,” Martinez said in a statement to CNN. “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 has also issued an apology.
“There were comments made in the context of this meeting that are wholly inappropriate; and I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private. I've reached out to that colleague personally,” De León said in a statement provided to NBC4. “On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders -- and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”
Bonin and his husband Sean Arian have responded by demanding Martinez’ resignation and that City Council remove her as council president.
Our family statement about today's ugly and hateful news. pic.twitter.com/0fPPXwsS5B— Mike Bonin (@mikebonin) October 9, 2022
“We’re appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted that Nury Martinez attacked our son with horrific racist slurs and talked about her desire to physically harm him. It’s vile, abhorrent, and utterly disgraceful,” the couple said in a joint statement, which was posted on Twitter.
Bonin and Arian added that they are “equally angry and disgusted by the ugly racist comments about our son from Kevin de León and Ron Herrera, who should also resign their posts, and by the tacit acceptance of those remarks from Gil Cedillo.”
Cedillo has also issued an apology.
“While I did not engage in the conversation in question, I was present at times during this meeting last year,” Cedillo said in a statement to CNN. “It’s my instinct to hold others accountable when they use derogatory or racially divisive language. 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. We choose public life, but our families should always be off limits and never part of the political discourse.”
“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,” Bonin and Arian said in their statement.