By David M. Greenwald
Los Angeles, CA – A year ago in a behind-closed-doors conversation, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez made what many are calling openly racist remarks directed toward the son of one of her colleagues.
Three of Martinez’s colleagues have called on her to resign over saying Martinez Councilmember Mike Bonin’s handling of his young Black son was as though he were an “accessory.”
Martinez was talking about Bonin’s young son apparently misbehaving on his float. She said, “There this white guy with his little Black kid, who’s misbehaved.” She continued, “The kid’s bounding off the effing walls on the float, practically tipping it over. There’s nothing you can do to control him, callate changuito.”
She added, ““This kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner, I’ll bring him right back.”
Knock LA posted the full audio on Twitter and on their website.
Martinez also said, “F— that guy … He’s with the Blacks” while speaking about Los Angeles DA George Gascón.
Meanwhile, Councilmember Kevin De León compared Bonin’s handling of his child to Martinez holding a Louis Vuitton handbag.
Martinez issued a statement apologizing for her comments, saying: “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.
“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 called the comments “wholly inappropriate” and said she had fallen “short of the expectations we set for our leaders.”
“I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private,” he said in a statement. “I’ve reached out to that colleague personally.”
Gil Cedillo, another councilmember, denied having recollection of the conversation.
“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,” said Mike Bonin in a statement on Sunday.
“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,” the family said in a statement. “It’s vile, abhorrent, and utterly disgraceful.”
They called on Martinez to be removed as Council President and to resign for office.
They added, “We are equally angry and disgusted by the ugly racist comments about our son from Kevin de Leon and Ron Herrera, who should also resign from their posts.”
Eunisses Hernandez, who is taking Cedillo’s office after defeating him in the primary said, “Council President Nury Martinez needs to resign, Councilmembers Kevin De Leon and Gil Cedillo should be removed from committees.”
She added, “Angelenos are tired of these continued displays of bigotry and corruption. They deserve true accountability, restorative action, and an investigation into these back room conversations that have had real life impacts on our lives.”
George Gascón issued a statement, “I am saddened & disappointed by the racist comments made in the conversation between various LA City Councilmembers. I share the outrage of Councilmember Bonin as well as all members of the African American community. Anti-Blackness has no place in Los Angeles.”
Karen Bass, who is running for LA Mayor, issued a statement as well, “My heart goes out to the innocent child who is caught in the middle of this. You are a beautiful, brilliant boy and you are loved.”
She called the comments “appalling, anti-Black racism” and noted that she had spent her career building alliance between the Black and Latino communities of color.
She called on the need to unite “around our shared values” in a “diverse and dynamic city like Los Angeles.”
She said, “Our city is in crisis. Homelessness is out of control, crime is on the rise, and Angeleanos are being priced out of their hometown. The challenges we face already threaten to tear us apart and, now, this hateful and shocking conversation among some of our city’s most powerful leaders could divide us even further.”
She called for those in the room to be “held accountable.”