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A small group of Los Angeles city leaders faced have been confronted after an audio recording of racist remarks at a private meeting surfaced Sunday.
The meeting, which the Times reports happened last October on Los Angeles County Federation of Labor property, included Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Federation President Ron Herrera.
According to NBC News, the most egregious remarks were uttered by City Council President Nury Martinez, who seemed to verify the 2021 recording by apologizing to constituents. She likened a colleague’s son, Black and 2 years old at the time, to an animal and seemed to imply that the county’s progressive district attorney shouldn’t be supported because he may be popular with Black Angelenos.
The remarks about the child, the son of departing council member Mike Bonin, was in regards to his behavior at a parade in 2017, when he was 2. Martinez used a Spanish term to refer to the boy as an animal.
Bonin, who is white, has an adopted son who is Black. In the leaked audio, Martinez can be heard describing Bonin’s son as “ese changuito,” or that little monkey, according to the Times. At one point, Martinez also refers to Bonin as a “little b••ch.”
Martinez also dismissed Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, a justice reform advocate who is reviled by law-and-order politicians and has survived two Republican-led recall attempts, as unworthy of the support of the people in the room.
The recording captures Martinez saying, “F— that guy. He’s with the Blacks.”
Councilman Kevin De León at one point accuses Bonin of treating his son like an accessory, comparing him to a designer handbag. He also referred to Bonin as the council’s “fourth Black member,” the Times reports.
Alex Alonso, a Chicano and Latino studies scholar at California State University, Los Angeles, explains, “This is very emblematic of how difficult it is to improve Black-brown relations in our city,” said Alonso, who is Black and Latino.
A statement attributed to Bonin and his partner, Sean Arian, called on Martinez to resign and, at the same time, urged the council to remove her as president.
The statement characterized Martinez’s racist comments about the son as “dehumanizing” and said, “It is painful to know he will someday read these comments.”
On Sunday, Martinez released a statement that reads in part:
“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.”
Martinez said the meeting was about redistricting and how it could better represent people of color. Martinez, who worked for one of the city’s most prominent Black leaders, Herb Wesson, said her record on matters of race and diversity “speaks for itself.”