Nury Martinez, the City Council President of Los Angeles, California, recently resigned from her position after a recording was leaked in which she made racist remarks. The audio was posted by an anonymous user on the social media platform Reddit on Sunday before it was then acquired by the Los Angeles Times.
In the audio, Martinez, as well as other Latino leaders in LA such as fellow council members Kevin de León, Gil Cedillo, and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, could be heard in the recording. It originally took place in October of 2021, and the four seemed to be unaware of the fact that they were being taped.
At first, the conversation was mostly frustration over maps proposed by the city’s redistricting commission as the four seemed to want to make sure that “heavily Latino districts did not lose economic assets.” However, the topic of discussion quickly turned towards a fellow Council member, Mike Bonin. Bonin is white, however, he has a black son, who Martinez harshly criticized. “They’re raising him like a little White kid,” stated Martinez, elaborating on an example she provided earlier in the recording where the son was allegedly misbehaving during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade. She said how the kid was: “bouncing off the effing walls on the float, practically tipping it over” and that he needed a beatdown to set him straight. “Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.” Martinez even went as far as to call the child a “changuito,” which means close to “little monkey” in Spanish.
The conversation then turns back to the maps, with the subject of the redistricting process of LA’s Koreatown, also known as K-Town. Martinez shows an unwillingness to give the area to another council member by the name of Nithya Raman, as it might give her a political advantage. The group then discusses whether the nearby Lafayette Park should be considered part of K-Town, to which Martinez responds that she often sees “a lot of little short, dark people there,” (referring to Oaxacans from the Oaxaca region in Mexico). She also added that she didn’t like nor cared about where all of the Oaxacans had come from and that they were “tan feos,” which translates to “they’re ugly” in Spanish.
The group then went on to complain about the redistricting committee, with Martinez saying how they’re all “F—ing useless” and that Raman was not their ally. Herrera also stated how they needed to “protect” City Council candidate Hugo Soto-Martínez against his competitor Mitch O’Farrell.
After the recording had been leaked, there were immediate calls from citizens of Los Angeles and various political leaders, including President Joe Biden, for Martinez to step down from her post. On Monday, Martinez publicly apologized for her actions and resigned, followed by a leave of absence from the court on Tuesday. “To my staff – I’m sorry that we’re ending it this way,” she said in a written statement. “This is no reflection on you. I know you all will continue to do great work and fight for our district. I’ll be cheering you on.” Governor Gavin Newsom of California called the resignation the right move, stating that “What was said by these elected leaders is deeply troubling and racism cannot be tolerated in California,” in a tweet. Now Acting Council President, O’Farrell also called the resignation the right decision and proposed many new changes in the city in his first meeting in his new position. He proposed various reforms in the city’s redistricting as well for greater representation in its council. “There is no other way forward,” said O’Farrell in a statement.
So far, none of the other leaders caught in the recording have stated that they will resign, however, Cedillo did say that he should have stepped into the conversation. “On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders – and I will hold myself to a higher standard,” said Cedillo in a written statement on Sunday.