Politics: Council President and Members Accused of Making Racist Comments About Colleagues in Leaked Audio

Council President and Members Accused of Making Racist Comments About Colleagues in Leaked Audio

President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera have disparaged White Councilman Mike Bonin’s Black child, among other racist comments.

L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera have been accused of making racist comments after audio of a conversation among the four leaked online.

Audio of the conversation was first posted on Reddit several days ago by a user who has since been suspended, according to the Los Angeles Times, which posted the audio on its own site Sunday.

It’s unclear who recorded the conversation, which took place in October 2021.

Martinez reportedly called Bonin’s child “Parece changuito,” which the Times translated as “He’s like a monkey.”

She also noted that Bonin took part in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade, riding on a float with several politicians along with his son and called the child “an accessory.”

She said that the child wasn’t behaving on the float, and claimed that she and other women had to step in and “parent this kid.”

“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez allegedly said. “I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”

De León reportedly compared Bonin’s handling 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 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.

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

After the Times published its story, Martinez issued an apology. “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,” she told the Times.

She added: “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.”

“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 told the Times that he didn’t recall the conversation, while Herrera didn’t respond to the Times’ requests for comment.

On Sunday, Bonin and his husband, Sean Arian, issued their statement in response and called on Martinez, De León and Herrera to resign.

“We are 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,” they wrote.

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.”