Demand for resignation of LA city council member peaks after leaked racist audio about colleague’s son

Three Latino members of the Los Angeles City Council are under heavy fire for a private conversation from Oct 2021, which was secretly recorded and leaked. In the conversation, the members gang up on fellow council member Mike Bronin and make racist remarks about his adopted son who is black.

The voices of four city officials were recorded: Council president Nury Martinez, members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. The reason for the meeting was a debrief on council members’ remarks over proposed redistricting maps.

Under the most relentless public outcry is the council president, Nury Martinez, who can be heard in the conversation calling Bronin a “little b—-” and his nearly 3-year-old son “an accessory” that he brings around town. She called the little boy “su negrito” or “his little black”, a very derogatory expression. She then called him “ese changuito” or “that little monkey.”

(Video: CBS Los Angeles)

The Latina councilwoman also said in the recording that Bonin had been raising his son “like a little white kid” and that the little boy “needs a “beatdown”.

“Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back,” she continued.

The leaked audio was first posted to Reddit but got much wider attention when Knock LA reported on it, with audio portions included. That night, protesters descended on Martinez’s Sun Valley home, playing key parts of the audio over a loudspeaker.

All the major networks reported on the story. CBS quoted a protester as saying, “We can’t keep allowing these people to do whatever they want. It’s just blatantly disrespectful, it’s honestly just evil… We want to let her know that she will not be sitting there for much longer and we will get her out of office.”

Protesters vowed to keep harassing Martinez at her home, her office and her church until she resigns.

Two months before the conversation was recorded, Martinez proposed a law forbidding protesters from coming within 300 feet of a target’s home. It passed in the manner most council measures are passed, in a near-unanimous fashion, 13-1.

“I’m just completely done” with protests, Martinez was quoted in the LA Times.

She complained that protesters had shouted obscenities at her daughter and claimed that her car was vandalized.

Fast forward to the recent protests. People’s City Council tweeted that the “LAPD is telling us that we cannot protest outside Nury Martinez’s house. They are citing a law that we cannot engage in a targeted protest.”

This is the kind of lawlessness that gets the attention of the LA City Council. The kind that murders, riots, loots, rapes, and burns down – yawn, sigh.

The council is composed of 15 members; 14 are Democrats and the other, representing the northwest corner of the city map (Chatsworth, Granada Hills, etc), is an Independent.

Councilman Bonin, who is white, told the LA Times that he felt “disgusted and angry and heartsick” about the comments from his colleagues.

He called for the resignation of all three members, citing the unwritten rule that you don’t attack minor children family members.

“It’s fair game to attack me but my son?” he said. “You have to be pretty petty and insecure and venomous to attack a child. He wasn’t even 3 years old… Other than that, I’m speechless.”

On Sunday, Martinez made 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.”

It was not an abject apology, as it included a defensive angle.

“My work speaks for itself,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to lead this city through its most difficult time.”

One might parry the fact that her words speak for themselves, too. It is a habit of those who get caught in revealing dialogs to say that they take responsibility for their words and to apologize.

What frustrates people is that public officials are not held accountable. Martinez doesn’t seem to know that the proper way to take responsibility is to resign. Neither the mayor nor a majority of the council can easily oust a member, which leaves the matter in the people’s hands, either by electing an opponent or by making a relentless, public demand. People of Martinez’s own district have chosen the latter.

Racism’s home is the Democratic Party. Why is it so difficult to see this? For all the talk of racist Republicans, you don’t find leaked conversations like this among Republicans. If such recordings existed, you can be sure they would be leaked more readily than conversations between Democrats.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti issued platitudes on the matter.

“There is no place in our city family for attacks on colleagues and their loved ones, and there is no place for racism anywhere in LA,” he told the LA Times.

There were no teeth to those words. No call to resign, no talk of consequences. Only Republicans should resign. Democrats circle the wagons and wait for storms to blow over. The Cuomo resignation is a rare thing. It may be that sustained public pressure will force Nury Martinez to resign, but it won’t be public officials who apply that pressure.

There is much more to this story about the attitude and governing approach of the Latinos on the council and their racist disdain against blacks, who have noticed.


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