Leaked audio reveals racist comments from L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez, and other Latino leaders
The racist comments were part of a conversation secretly recorded back in October 2021.
A secretly-recorded conversation between Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Kevin de León and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, in October of 2021 was leaked on Sunday, Oct. 9, on Reddit and obtained by The Los Angeles Times. It reveals racist and colorist comments made by Martinez and the other Latino leaders present.
In the audio, she ridicules certain colleagues, makes racist comments towards a child of another, and directs other racist comments at her own Latino community. Martinez also made angry and blundering comments about how Los Angeles should be shaped concerning redistricting.
The clip gives an inside look at the process of redistricting in the city as well as the political in-fighting that goes on between officials over political power gain.
By Sunday night, three of her colleagues, Councilmembers Nithya Raman, Paul Koretz, and Eunisses Hernandez, who just beat Cedillo in the latest June primary, called for Martinez’s resignation ahead of the important Nov. 8 elections in which she currently endorses some candidates. The current circumstances leaves those candidates now scrambling to separate themselves from the now-hated City Council President.
“Wow, you know it happens, but when you actually hear it, it’s unbelievable. The labor movement is in bed with City Hall,” the caption of the now-deleted Reddit post seen in a screenshot reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
Along with the racist comments made, the conversation heavily focused on the councilmembers' anger towards the city’s 21-member Redistricting Commission’s proposed maps.
In the conversation in which the city leaders are unaware of the recording, Martinez went after the Black son of white Councilmember Mike Bonin, Bonin himself, L.A. County DA George Gascón, and Oaxacans that live in a section of Koreatown.
Martinez went after Bonin’s son with “Parece changuito,” or that he “looks like a monkey,” as well as saying Bonin’s handling of his son is like an “accessory.” Also in the conversation, Martinez described Bonin as a “little bitch.” While speaking about Los Angeles County DA George Gascón, Martinez said “F— that guy…He’s with the Blacks.”
Martinez also went on to mock Oaxacans, a state in northern Mexico that is known for its Indingenous people and culture.
“I see a lot of little short dark people,” Martinez said of Shatto Place, a small street, and Lafayette Park, a section of Koreatown, in which Oaxacas reside, using stereotypes long used against the community in not just America, but Mexico too.
“I was like, I don’t know where these people are from, I don’t know what village they came [from], how they got here,” Martinez said. “Tan feos” — “They’re ugly,” she added.
Councilmember de León in the audio leak also went at Bonin, saying his handling of his young Black son was similar to that of holding a Louis Vuitton bag. He also referred to Bonin as council’s “fourth Black member.”
“Mike Bonin won’t f—ing ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a f—ing word about us,” de León went on to say.
The group of city leaders continued their conversation about Bonin and his son in reference to when Bonin appeared with his son on a float in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade back in 2017 that also featured other politicians, in which Martinez said the child was “an accessory.” She continued by saying, “Su negrito, like on the side,” a Spanish demeaning term used against Black people.
In the same conversation, Martinez suggested the child was misbehaving on the float during the parade and that if her and another unnamed woman had not stepped in to “parent this kid,” the float might have tipped over.
“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez said. “I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”
In the time since, Bonin and his husband, Sean Arian, called on the city leaders to resign in a statement,
“The entirety of the recorded conversation... displayed a repeated and vulgar anti-Black sentiment, and a coordinated effort to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles,” said Bonin. “Any parent reading her comments will know she is unfit for public office,” they said of Martinez. “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.”
Martinez also issued an apology after Sunday’s leak.
“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 said. “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 also responded saying that his comments were “wholly inappropriate” in addition to saying he had fallen “short 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 said in a statement. “I’ve reached out to that colleague personally.”
Cedillo was contacted by The Los Angeles Times, but said he didn’t remember the conversation.
Herrera asked for forgiveness in his statement in which he said he had “no justification and no excuse for the vile remarks made in that room.”
“And I didn’t step up to stop them and I will have to bear the burden of that cross moving forward,” he said.
Also in the conversation, the group addressed the future of Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas who was recently indicted and is currently awaiting trial on bribery and other federal charges.
“If he resigns and the African-Americans look at this as a hostile takeover because he’s gone, we’ll have to figure that s— out,” Martinez said of Ridley-Thomas. “Because politically, they’re going to come after us.”
She then later suggests nonprofit director Irma R. Muñoz as a potential replacement for Ridley-Thomas, saying that she is “married to an African-American and she lives up in Baldwin Hills,” known to be as the “Black Beverly Hills.”
All this occurs as the pivotal midterm elections are less than a month away.