Nury Martinez resigns her City Council seat amid deepening LA scandal

Assemblyman Isaac Bryan comforts Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin before Tuesday’s council meeting on October 11, 2022. Bonin’s son was the target of racist comments by his colleague Nury Martinez, who has since stepped down as council president and took a leave of absence. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels, of Beth Shir Shalom, speaks as a coalition of religious leaders gather outside Los Angeles City Hall demanding the resignation of council members Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León before Tuesday’s council meeting on October 11, 2022 after a recording was released of Martinez, who has since stepped down as council president and took a leave of absence, making racists comments with Cedillo and De León. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, right, speaks with City Council President Pro Tem Mitch O’Farrell before leaving Tuesday’s council meeting on October 11, 2022 as the crowd demands he resign. De León was caught on a recording with colleagues Nury Martinez and Gil Cedillo making racist comments. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, fifteen minutes before the scheduled start of an LA City Council meeting — the first since a tape surfaced of council members Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo that included racist remarks — protesters outside the Council Chambers chant, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” (Photo by Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News)

Suyapa Maldonado stands at the front of a group of protesters inside Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, waiting for the Council Chambers to open for a meeting — the first since news broke about a tape of council members Nury Martinez, Kevin De Leon and Gil Cedillo engaged in a conversation about redistricting that included racist statements. (Photo by Dean Musgrove/Los Angeles Daily News)

Civil rights activist Najee Ali lead a press conference at Southside Bethel Baptist Church, after audio surfaced on Sunday of Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez making racist slurs about colleague Mike Bonin’s young son during a conversation in October 2021,
in Los Angeles on Monday, October 10, 2022. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

Pastor Thembekila Colman-Smart speaks as a coalition of religious leaders gather outside Los Angeles City Hall demanding the resignation of council members Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León before Tuesday’s council meeting on October 11, 2022 after a recording was released of Martinez, who has since stepped down as council president and took a leave of absence, making racists comments with Cedillo and De León. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

A coalition of religious leaders gather outside Los Angeles City Hall demanding the resignation of council members Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León before Tuesday’s council meeting on October 11, 2022 after a recording was released of Martinez, who has since stepped down as council president and took a leave of absence, making racists comments with Cedillo and De León. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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Embattled Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nury Martinez has resigned, following days of intensifying pressure for her to leave office after she was caught in a secret recording making racist comments and discussing with two other councilmembers and a labor leader how they might sway the city’s redistricting map in their favor last year.

“It is with a broken heart that I resign my seat for Council District 6, the community I grew up in and my home,” she said in a statement Wednesday, Oct. 12.“When I ran in 2013, I wanted to see a change in my community and fight for my neighbors. That is what it has been about all along. No one expected me to win, but with the support of residents throughout the district I overcame that challenge and won the seat for Council District 6. I had the honor of serving in the role of a lifetime: being the representative for my neighbors.”

She went on to say that as the first Latina council president, she “strived to serve with compassion and to give a larger platform to the communities I felt had been left behind.”

“To my constituents — Serving you has been a privilege and one that I don’t give up lightly. You are my neighbors, my friends, and the reason for this service. …  I hope you stay engaged and continue to fight for your fair share of the city’s resources. It’s hard to say goodbye, but please know that I was in this fight for you.”

As protesters again disrupted the start of Wednesday’s Los Angeles City Council meeting, State Attorney General Rob Bonta confirmed that his office will investigate the city’s redistricting process in light of the racially charged, recorded 2021 conversation that included three council members discussing the redrawing of district boundaries.

“The remarks that were made by some of Los Angeles’ highest ranking officials, they were unacceptable, they were offensive and they were deeply painful, deeply hurtful to many communities,” Bonta said. “There is no place for anti-Black, antisemitic, anti-Indigenous, homophobic or discriminatory rhetoric of any kind in our state, especially when it comes in relation to the duties of a public official.”

The investigation is the latest fallout from the recording that was leaked over the weekend and led initially to Martinez stepping down as council president and prompted widespread calls for her to resign, along with fellow meeting participants councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo.

The conversation featured Martinez making an array of racially charged comments aimed at various ethnic groups, as well as the 2-year-old Black adopted son of Councilman Mike Bonin. The remarks were made during a meeting with Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera to discuss the redistricting process.

Herrera has since resigned as the federation president. Martinez has taken a leave of absence from the council, but she and the other two council members have thus far declined to resign their seats.

Bonin said the conversation makes it imperative for a detailed examination of the city’s redistricting process.

Councilmembers this week introduced several agenda items to address the fallout, including a resolution to censure councilmembers Martinez, Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo and a resolution, which seven councilmembers signed, calling for their immediate resignations from office.

Sparking  the unprecedented furor was a secret recording that emerged on social media of a private conversation a year ago between the three councilmembers and powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera in which the four discussed how to influence the city’s upcoming redrawing of voting districts.

In the secret recording, Martinez and De Leon can be heard making racist comments about City Councilmember Mike Bonin’s toddler, who is Black — among other racially tainted comments.

The four Latino leaders also discussed how best to redraw the city’s redistricting maps to benefit them – actions that had the potential to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles.

All four have issued apologies for their roles in the conversation. Herrera resigned as head of Los Angeles County Federation of Labor late on Monday.

Wednesday’s City Council meeting was adjourned after officials were unable to quiet protesters calling for the three council members to resign or be removed.

Tuesday’s council meeting was delayed 45 minutes as protesters who packed the Council Chamber chanted and called on Martinez, De Leon and Gil Cedillo to resign. Martinez, who stepped down from her powerful post as city council president on Monday, announced Tuesday ahead of the meeting that she was taking a leave of absence.

De Leon and Cedillo showed up to the Tuesday meeting but eventually left after the protesters refused to quiet down.

After the protesters quieted down, Councilman Mike Bonin, whose adopted little boy was the subject of racially ugly comments, held center stage as Bonin spoke more than 10 minutes, at times tearful.

“I can’t forgive them because it’s not my prerogative,” he said of Martinez, De Leon and Cedillo. “It’s the prerogative of a boy who is too young to really understand what’s going on.” Bonin added  that his husband and he are “raw and angry and heartbroken” for their family and the city.

“These people stabbed us and shot us and cut the spirit of Los Angeles,” he said.

Speaking to those in the audience who came to City Hall to demand accountability from Martinez, De Leon and Cedillo, he said, “On these tapes, I have heard the worst of what Los Angeles is. From you, I’m hearing and I’m seeing what the best of what Los Angeles is.”

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