Amid scandal, Nury Martinez resigns as LA City Council president

Under increasing pressure, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez has resigned as president of the council, a day after secretly taped audio of racially demeaning remarks she made about a councilman’s son made headlines.

“I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments,” Martinez said in a statement Monday, Oct. 10, where she announced that her resignation would be effective immediately.

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Although she stepped down as council president, Martinez stopped short of resigning from her council seat. Instead, she asked Angelenos for “the opportunity to make amends.”

“I sincerely apologize to the people I hurt with my words: to my colleagues, their families, especially to Mike, Sean, and your son. 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,” Martinez stated.

She went on to say that her comments “undercut” her goal of empowering communities of color.

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“Going forward, reconciliation will be my priority,” she stated, noting that she had reached out to a number of her Black colleagues and Black leaders “in order for us to heal.”

“I ask for forgiveness from my colleagues and from the residents of this city that I love so much,” Martinez said. “In the end, it is not my apologies that matter most; it will be the actions I take from this day forward. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to make amends.”

Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez (File photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

“I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments,” Martinez said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m so sorry.

“I sincerely apologize to the people I hurt with my words: to my colleagues, their families, especially to Mike (Bonin), (Bonin’s partner) Sean (Arian), and your son. 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.

“As someone who believes deeply in the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize my comments undercut that goal. Going forward, reconciliation will be my priority. I have already reached out to many of my Black colleagues and other Black leaders to express my regret in order for us to heal.

“I ask for forgiveness from my colleagues and from the residents of this city that I love so much. In the end, it is not my apologies that matter most; it will be the actions I take from this day forward. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to make amends.

“Therefore, effective immediately I am resigning as President of the Los Angeles City Council.”

Martinez came under fire following Sunday’s release of the recorded October 2021 conversation in which she made racist remarks aimed at Bonin’s 2-year-old son.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin (File photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Martinez and Councilman Kevin de León made racially charged remarks during the conversation that also included Councilman Gil Cedillo and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. The group was discussing the politically sensitive process of redrawing council district boundaries.

The recorded conversation was leaked, appearing on Reddit before it was later removed from the site. City News Service reviewed the conversation, but it was unclear who was responsible for the recording and its leak.

Among other comments, Martinez belittled Bonin, who is white and has a Black son, and criticized the child for his behavior at a Martin Luther King Day parade, saying Bonin’s son was misbehaving on a float, which might have tipped over if she and the other women on the float didn’t step in to “parent this kid.”

“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez said. “I was like, `This kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner andthen I’ll bring him back.”’

City Councilman Gil Cedillo (File photo)

Martinez also called the child “ese changuito,” Spanish for “that little monkey.”

De León also criticized Bonin. “Mike Bonin won’t f—ing ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a f—ing word about us,” he said.

De León also compared Bonin’s handling of his son at the MLK Parade to “when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag.”

“Su negrito, like on the side,” Martinez added, using a Spanish term for a Black person that’s considered demeaning by many.

At another point in the leaked conversation, Martinez recalls a conversation with businessman Danny Bakewell about possibly transferring Los Angeles International Airport out of Bonin’s Council District and into that of Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Martinez says she told Bakewell to “go get the airport from his little brother — that little bitch Bonin.”

Then-Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

On the subject of Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas’ suspension amid an indictment on federal corruption charges, Martinez said Controller Ron Galperin would decide whether Ridley-Thomas still gets paid.

“You need to go talk to that white guy,” she says. “It’s not us. It’s the white members on this Council that will motherf— you in a heartbeat.”

Martinez also took aim at Los Angeles County District George Gascón in profane terms, after the group appeared to discuss whether Gascón would endorse Cedillo in his re-election campaign against Hernandez.

“F— that guy. (inaudible) … He’s with the Blacks,” she said of Gascón.

District Attorney George Gascón on Wednesday, August 10 (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A spokesperson for Gascón did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Martinez, de León, Herrera and Cedillo apologized separately on Sunday for their roles in the racially charged conversation.

“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 in a statement provided to CNS.

“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. My work speaks for itself. I’ve worked hard to lead this city through its most difficult time.”

Kevin de León on June 6, 2022. (File photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

De León said: “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,” he said.

“On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”

Herrera’s statement said: “The calls for accountability are loud clear and deserved. I recognize that the community and our affiliates deserved an apology earlier and I am sorry this has not been the case. I had to face my family and granddaughters personally and apologize to them for my failure to stand up to racist and anti-Black remarks in that immediate moment. I failed them in the moment and for that I hold the deepest regret.

“And now, I apologize to all of you, Mike Bonin and his family, the affiliates and community members, specifically those in the Black and Oaxacan community. There is no justification and no excuse for the vile remarks made in that room. Period. And I didn’t step up to stop them and I will have to bear the burden of that cross moving forward,” Herrera’s said. “I will do better and I hope that all of you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.”

Cedillo issued a statement saying, “I want to start by apologizing. While I did not engage in the conversation in question, I was present at times during this meeting last year. It is my instinct to hold others accountable when they use derogatory or racially divisive language. Clearly, I should have intervened. I failed in holding others and myself to the highest standard. The hurtful and harmful remarks made about my colleague’s son were simplyunacceptable. We choose public life, but our families should always be off limits and never part of the political discourse.”

Bonin and his partner Sean Arian tweeted a lengthy statement from the family Sunday calling for the council to remove Martinez as president and for her and de León to resign their seats entirely.

“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. 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.

“We love our son, a beautiful, joyful child, and our family is hurting today,” the statement continued. “No child should ever be subjected to such racist, mean and dehumanizing comments, especially from a public official. It is painful to know he will someday read these comments. We are equally angry and disgusted by the ugly racist comments about our son from Kevin de León and Ron Herrera, who should also resign their posts, and by thetacit acceptance of those remarks from Gil Cedillo. 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.

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Tearing the fabric of municipal trust: A guide to corruption cases in Los Angeles City Hall

“As parents of a Black child, we condemn the entirety of the recorded conversation, which displayed a repeated and vulgar anti-Black sentiment, and a coordinated effort to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles. The conversation revealed several layers of contempt for the people of Los Angeles, and a cynical, ugly desire to divide the city rather than serve it.

“There’s more I will say later, but right now because I’m still digesting it. I’m disgusted and angry and heartsick. It’s fair game to attack me, but my son? You have to be pretty petty and insecure and venomous to attack a child. He wasn’t even 3 years old. Other than that, I’m speechless.”