A leaked recorded conversation exposing Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez has forced her to step down after it was revealed she made racist and disparaging comments about her work colleague’s Black son.
“I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments. I’m so sorry,” Martinez wrote in a letter announcing her resignation from council president Monday.
In the recording, Martinez, who is of Mexican descent, can be heard saying a fellow councilmember’s child, who was a toddler at the time, behaved “parece changuito,” translated in English to mean “like a monkey” and that the child was like an “accessory.” She was referring to Mike Bonin’s son, who is white and has a Black son. She also said that the child was unruly on a parade float and needed a “beatdown.” The recording – which includes two other Latino members (Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León) – was anonymously posted on Reddit and was confirmed as authentic by the Los Angeles Times. Martinez will remain a city councilmember, but will surrender her leadership role, according to reports.
“I sincerely apologize to the people I hurt with my words: to my colleagues, their families, especially to Mike, [his husband] Sean [Arian], and your son,” Martinez wrote in the letter, “As a mother, I know better and I am sorry. I am truly ashamed. I know this is the result of my own actions. I’m sorry to your entire family for putting you through this.”
At one point in the recording, De León suggested that Bonin was the council’s “fourth Black member.” “Mike Bonin won’t fucki*g ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a fucki*g word about us,” he said.
In a statement post on Twitter, Bonin hard-pressed Martinez to resign along with Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, the other two council members on the recording.
“We are appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted that Nury Martinez attacked our son with horrific racist slurs, and talked about her desire to physically harm him,” Bonin wrote. “It’s vile, abhorrent, and utterly disgraceful. The city council needs to remove her as Council President immediately, and she needs to resign from office. Any parent reading her comments will know she is unfit for public office.”
In a statement Sunday, de León said in a statement that “there were comments made in the context of this meeting that are wholly inappropriate; and I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private. I’ve reached out to that colleague personally.”