Several leaked audio clips posted by an anonymous Reddit account have put three Los Angeles City Council members and a top county labor official under fire over a conversation last October, where the individuals could be heard using offensive and racist language.
The conversation included Council President Nury Martinez with fellow Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. The meeting was largely focused on redistricting the city, which happens once a decade.
During the conversation, Martinez remarked about Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón after his name was mentioned.
“F*** that guy,” Martinez said. “He’s with the blacks.”
Another part of the audio clip, which can be heard across social media platforms and in a report by The Los Angeles Times, exposes comments made by Martinez about Councilmember Mike Bonin, a white man, and his adopted black son.
While discussing Bonin, Martinez called his son “Parece changuito,” or “He’s like a monkey,” soon afterward. She later referred to Bonin as a “little bitch” and said he is raising his child like a “little white kid.”
The Los Angeles Times reports Councilmember de León compared Bonin’s handling of his child Martinez carrying her Louis Vuitton handbag. He would later call Bonin as the council’s “fourth black member.”
“Mike Bonin won’t f***ing ever say peep about Latinos,” de León said. “He’ll never say a f***ing word about us.”
KTLA reports Martinez released an apology statement.
“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,” Martinez said. “For that, I am sorry.”
“The context of this conversation was concern over the redistricting process and concern about the potential negative impact it might have on communities of color,” she added. “My work speaks for itself. I’ve worked hard to lead this city through its most difficult time.”
De León released a statement following the report, according to KTLA.
“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,” de León said. “I’ve reached out to that colleague personally. On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”
Cedillo told The Los Angeles Times that he does not “have a recollection of this conversation.”
A lawyer representing the L.A. County Federation of Labor sent a letter to The Los Angeles Times condemning the publication for highlighting the transcripts while accusing it of “condoning illegal conduct.”
Jeffrey Glasser, general counsel of The Los Angeles Times, defended the newspaper’s right to publish the material in a response letter to the lawyer.
“It is a fundamental principle in the United States that we do not prohibit or punish the receipt and publication of newsworthy information,” Glasser said.
Councilmember Bonin released a statement Sunday afternoon, saying he and his husband were “appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted” about the comments made about his son, according to KTLA.
“We love our son, a beautiful, joyful child, and our family is hurting today,” Bonin’s statement reads.”No child should ever be subjected to such racist, mean and dehumanizing comments, especially from a public official.”
“It hurts that one of our son’s earliest encounters with overt racism comes from some of the most powerful public officials in Los Angeles,” he added.
Bonin called on Martinez, de León, and Cedillo to resign from the City Council.
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