Leaked Recording of Racist Remarks Shakes Up LA Politics


Update: The president of the city council in Los Angeles resigned on Monday after a leaked recording surfaced of her making racist remarks. “I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments. I’m so sorry,” said Nury Martinez in a statement, per KTLA. “I sincerely apologize to the people I hurt with my words.” Our story from earlier Monday, with details on the leaked audio, follows:

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez has apologized for racist remarks she made on a leaked recording of a strategy meeting with two other Latino members of the council and labor leader Ron Herrera—but the apology hasn’t stopped calls for her to step down. In the recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Martinez said the adopted Black son of white council member Mike Bonin was like a “changuito”—Spanish for “little monkey.” Kevin de Leon, another council member, said Bonin treated the child like a fashion accessory. Martinez criticized the boy’s behavior on a float in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade when he was 2 years old. “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.”

Martinez also called Oaxacan immigrants living in Koreatown “short little dark people” and slammed Los Angeles County DA George Gascón, saying he’s “with the Blacks,” the New York Times reports. The group discussed the process of redrawing council district boundaries, with Martinez saying that if Black council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson wants an economic asset for his district, he should “get the airport from his little brother—that little bitch Bonin.” The source of the recording of the October 2021 meeting is unclear, but council members have not disputed its authenticity, the NBC reports. It was posted on a Reddit discussion board last month by a now-suspended user and was later circulated via email. Analysts say its release by the LAT Sunday has shaken the city’s political establishment weeks ahead of Nov. 8 elections.

Bonin and his husband, Sean Arian, were among those calling for Martinez to resign Sunday, the LAT reports. The conversation “displayed a repeated and vulgar anti-Black sentiment” and Martinez’s “racist, mean and dehumanizing comments” about the child show she is unfit for public office, they said. In her apology, Martinez said she had spoken inappropriately in a “moment of intense frustration and anger.” De Leon also apologized for his remarks, while Herrera and another council member who was at the meeting, Gil Cedillo, apologized for not condemning the remarks at the time. There is “no justification and no excuse for the vile remarks made in that room,” Herrera said. (Read more Los Angeles stories.)