When elected officials weave racial attacks into their strategizing over city governance, it’s time for them to leave.
That’s what evidently happened in a recorded October 2021 meeting between Los Angeles council members Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, along with Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
The apparent purpose of the meeting was to discuss redistricting and scheming on how to shape districts in a way that’s politically advantageous to them.
In the course of this, Council President Nury Martinez compared Councilman Mike Bonin’s Black son to a monkey and condemned Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón this way, “F__ that guy…he’s with the Blacks.” She also mocked Latinos with indigenous roots because of their appearance, which she described as ugly.
de León likewise lamented what he described as the disproportionate influence of Blacks in Los Angeles, describing their power as “the Wizard of Oz effect,” with Cedillo adding that it’s like “25 Blacks are shouting.”
Overall, it was Martinez who made the most troubling of remarks. But it’s the context of the meeting and the substance of what was said that’s an inescapable problem. The recording reveals how Cedillo, de León and Martinez view their roles as city council members in one of the biggest and most diverse cities in the country.
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Black Angelenos, who disproportionately bear the brunt of the failures of city policies in myriad ways, including homelessness and police violence, should not be belittled or reduced to a merely inconvenient political faction.
No child should be attacked because of their race. No one, including Black and indigenous people, should be described in the ways Nury Martinez described them.
Nor should Cedillo, de León or Martinez act like they have done much good for Latinos in the city. Like the political hacks they are, they have used their names to ride off the wishes of the Latino community for competent representation.
Fortunately, Cedillo got bounced in the primary by Eunisses Hernandez, who he attacked in the primary for, among other things, having a humane and sensible approach to drug policy. So he’ll be out in December even if he chooses not to step down early. Still, he should step down for his involvement in the discussion.
Martinez and de León should likewise do the community a favor and resign. Angelenos deserve better. Black Angelenos deserve better. Latinos deserve better.
Sal Rodriguez can be reached at email@example.com