By David M. Greenwald
Los Angeles, CA – If Nury Martinez thought stepping down as council president on Monday would quell the firestorm surrounding revelations about her disparaging comments toward a young Black boy, she was mistaken. The calls have only grown louder.
“There is no way she can fairly represent her constituents after leaked audio captured her deplorable and racially divisive comments, her political machinations to maintain power at the expense of communities, and her use of racist, homophobic tropes to describe her colleague, and worse, his young son. She should leave elected office immediately,” the LA Times Editorial Board wrote on Monday.
As they note, “When it became apparent that her colleagues were ready to oust her as council president, Martinez announced she would step down from her leadership position. But that is not enough.”
The Times added, “The casual racism and disregard for colleagues and constituents on the audio revealed a serious rot that cannot be papered over with apologies.”
Perhaps the most pointed comments came from the Legislative Black Caucus.
In a pointed statement they said, “We are hurt, we are angry and we are disappointed in Nury Martinez for the disgusting comments about Councilmember Mike Bonin’s young child.”
“To single out a young Black boy for being excited during a MLK Day parade, to call the young Black child a little monkey and suggest that he be taken around a corner and beaten, is utterly reprehensible,” they continued. “We are not monkeys and our children are not here to be beaten into submission.”
Later they add: “It is clear that you are not the best of us and that your personal interests outweigh any semblance of respect for the Angelinos you represent.”
The LA County Public Defenders Union tweeted, “We call upon Council members Nury Martínez, Kevin de Leon, and Gil Cedillo to fully resign. The leaders of this City should be people who recognize that Los Angeles’ diversity is its source of strength and beauty. There is no place for racism of any kind in our government.
AFSCME 3299 called the statements, “Reprehensible” and said, “We condemn these attacks and stand in solidarity with our communities who experience the harms of colorism and anti-black racism.
“In the labor movement, we must hold ourselves to the core principle of solidarity and live the credo: An Injury to One is an Injury to All. This is central to building the trust and unity that is the bedrock of workers’ power.”
“Today, that trust and unity is broken. It has been broken before, and rooting out racism requires constant work and acts of solidarity from everyone in labor. It is incumbent on our leaders to repair beyond apology, with action and accountability,” AFSCME President Kathryn Lyberger said. “Those individuals who are implicated in the recording and who are elected to represent the people must resign now. Labor must hold labor accountable but resignation is the only way to restore the trust that has been broken.
“Anti-blackness and colorism must be called out and confronted everywhere. Justice for all workers can only come when all workers can trust that they are welcome in the house of labor,” she added. “3299 stands ready to continue that work to bring justice and healing to all our communities.”
SEIU California also called on them to resign.
“It was painful to learn the details of the discussion between Los Angeles City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de León, and Gil Cedillo, as well as Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. These are all people whom SEIU members have supported in the past,” they said in a statement.
“The anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, homophobia, abuse of power, divisiveness and outright cruelty expressed in this conversation are outrageous and unacceptable. These are not the values of the labor movement and they undermine the unity required to build an equitable Los Angeles. These individuals have failed the test of leadership. It is important that they resign their positions and step aside so the healing can begin and our movement can come together to make progress for all working people in Los Angeles,” the statement continued.
SEIU added, “To Councilmember Bonin and your family, we share your sorrow, anger and hurt. No family should ever face such abuse. To the Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ+ communities who are today processing another toxic attack on our children’s and our families’ worth and dignity, we join with you and commit to fighting for a better society.”
The LA branch of the NAACP also called for the resignation of all involved.
“The President of the LA City Council, and all of the involved Councilmembers should immediately resign. This kind of overt racism has no place in political discourse. We clearly know where your heart and mind are, and both of them are corroded with the rust of racism and hate,” said Rick Callender, President of the CA/HI State Conference of the NAACP.
Callender further argued that “all were complicit in the conversation in the recording which was published by the LA Times.”
The LA NAACP President Latricia Mitchell added, “We will not sit idly by and allow our elected representatives to engage in these kinds of disgusting and racist behaviors.”