Officials react to LA City Council racist comments: 'A dark day for our City of Angels'
LOS ANGELES - Nury Martinez on Monday announced she is stepping down as Los Angeles City Council President effective immediately after leaked audio revealed her and other council members making racist comments, including those about fellow colleague Mike Bonin's young son.
The remarks were made during a talk with council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, in a conversation that focused on the politically sensitive process of redrawing council district boundaries. Their talk also touched on the efforts to replace Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who's been indicted on federal corruption charges.
RELATED: Bonin calls on LA City Council to remove Martinez as president over racist comments on his son
First reported by the Los Angeles Times, it was not clear who recorded and leaked the conversation, which appeared on Reddit but was later removed from the site.
Following the backlash, other city council members and local leaders issued public statements reacting to the controversial remarks.
City Council Members
"As leaders of Los Angeles, we have a duty to represent all of the people of this great city. That means we must govern in such a way that uplifts the highest ideals of the city, state and nation. Government practices that are motivated by discrimination and hate are not only intolerable and disgusting but go against bringing this city together.
"The comments heard on this recording are truly disturbing. While the people who were in this meeting have at their best been proponents of an inclusive, prosperous Los Angeles for all, what I heard shocked me. This language adds to the divisive political environment driven by extremes and otherness rather than the common good.
"I reached out to Councilmember Bonin to express my heartfelt support of his family. Using a racist depiction to describe an African-American toddler is particularly pernicious given our country's history of dehumanizing African-Americans as well as other people of color. Children should be off limits, period.
"Difficult conversations and actionable steps must be had before we can redouble our efforts to bring forth a more inclusive city that we can all be proud of to call home. Being a leader demands better behavior, whether in public or behind closed doors, and Angelenos deserve elected representatives who respect them. We don't have to always agree but we should be able to count on some level of mutual respect."
"I've been Mike Bonin's seatmate on the LA City Council for almost 10 years and during that time, I have had the distinct pleasure of witnessing his child's joy and enthusiasm when he visits. While Mike and I don't agree on several substantive policy issues, I draw a firm line about conversations on his family, especially his son, as they serve no purpose in our discourse. Instead of tearing each other down, we must focus on finding common ground to solve the problems that we all face as Angelenos. I hope this incident will serve as a reminder that it is a much better approach to actively love, respect, and support each other. It is imperative that the City Council have a leader that represents the interests of everyone, and therefore I feel it is most appropriate for Councilmember Martinez to step down as Council President."
"Of course they should resign…all of them…before 9AM tomorrow… …Racist remarks in leaked audio of L.A. council members spark outrage, disgust."
"Let’s play what if… What if four teachers (or firefighters, or police officers, or trash collectors) were recorded saying those things about their colleagues and his kid? Apologize, resign and then real leaders can work on the City of LAs problems."
Curren Price, Heather Hutt and Marqueece Harris-Dawson
"This is a very dark day in LA politics for African Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, Indigenous people and Angelenos who have put their faith and trust i n their local government.
This is a city council that has said time and again that Black Lives Matter, that love is love, that our families come first and we are all equal.
Today that facade came crashing down. Our hearts are heavy in grief. This 2022 and we will not turn a blind eye to the blatant prejudice, discrimination and racism that has been put on full display for the whole world to see.
"The actions of our colleagues should not be tolerated and a vapid tongue has no place in City Hall. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever."
"Tomorrow we commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day in Los Angeles. This day is all about reconciliation, healing, and bringing greater understanding of the hundreds of years of atrocities committed against the indigenous people of this land after first contact.The tragic and unconscionable remarks that came to light today are a reminder of how harmful words can be when they are directed toward any one individual or group of people, especially when it involves a child. These words have no place anywhere. Words that dehumanize are soul-destroying even when they are uttered from the mouths of friends, loved ones, or colleagues.So on this Indigenous Peoples Day, may we all rise to our better angels and reflect on how we treat others and how we refer to others when they are not present. This is another time of reckoning, and there is only one conclusion: that the people involved in these transgressions atone for what was said and take the action that this moment requires of them. That includes stepping down from any privileged position, including that of City Council President, and to take the time required to regain the trust needed in order to carry on and find a way to recapture the remarkable credibility they’ve all maintained over the years that has resulted in so much good. That is the only path forward."
"The racist and hateful comments that were reported yesterday were abhorrent and indefensible in any context. If we truly are committed to building a society of mutual respect, caring and civility, no one should ever be subjected to the kind of vile and cruel personal attacks we heard in those recordings.Certainly, no child should ever be subjected to such extraordinarily hurtful comments under any circumstances. My longtime colleague Mike Bonin and I don’t always agree, but he is also my longtime friend, and I am heartsick to think of the pain that he and his family are experiencing.
At a time when our nation and our city have suffered so painfully from hatred, racism and toxic divisiveness, every leader must be committed to uniting people around our common values and our common interests in building a better future together.
ALL of the people of Los Angeles deserve to have confidence that their elected representatives will be their advocates. My colleagues who made these statements failed to meet that commitment during this meeting, and they must be held accountable for their conduct.Now more than ever, the City Council must stand on the side of unity and empathy and respect and empowerment of all people. We must stand clearly and forcefully against racist divisions and against those who would pit one group against another.
Sadly, the horrendous comments we heard are completely contrary to those standards and cannot be tolerated or swept aside. Those who made them must make amends so our city and our Council can begin the process of healing. Councilmember Martinez’s announcement of her resignation from the Council presidency is an essential first step in that process."
"Racist, homophobic, and deeply cruel statements like these are disqualifying for elected office in LA. The people who made them should resign. If they don't, I'll vote to remove them from Council leadership at the first opportunity."
"I condemn the vile and reprehensible acts of my colleagues and yesterday instructed the Chief Legislative Analyst to draft a motion calling for the removal of the Council President. I will introduce that motion tomorrow, so that we can begin the work of healing and uniting our communities."
LA Mayoral Candidates
"First, 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."Let me be clear about what was on those tapes: appalling, anti-Black racism. I have devoted my life to bringing people together to move us forward. For more than 30 years, I have built alliances between Los Angeles’ Black and Latino communities to increase our neighborhoods’ health, safety and prosperity.
I firmly believe that we can overcome our shared challenges by uniting around our shared values, and in a diverse and dynamic city like Los Angeles, that’s our only path forward."Our city is in crisis. Homelessness is out of control, crime is on the rise, and Angelenos 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."All those in that room must be held accountable, and I’ve spent the day speaking with Black and Latino leaders about how to ensure this doesn’t divide our city."For the remainder of this campaign and, I hope, as your mayor, my focus will always be on bringing our city together to build a stronger future for every Angeleno."
"First and foremost, my heart goes out to Mike Bonin and his family. I can only imagine the pain this has caused Mike and his family. I've disagreed with Mike on much regarding public policy, but as a father I stand with him and his family and vehemently denounce this hate speech against his son. I hope others will join me in supporting Mike in this difficult timeThis entire situation shows that city hall is fundamentally broken and dysfunctional. In a closed door meeting, leaders at the highest levels of city government used racial slurs and hate speech while discussing how to carve up the city to retain their own power. This is a clear example of hypocrisy, racism, and crude power politics.Everyone involved in this should be held accountable. I have now and will always have zero tolerance for hate speech and this situation is beyond the pale. I denounce everything in these recordings and call on all to be held accountable.Los Angeles can't have leaders who call children racial epithets and names. I know this is one thing we can all agree on. Most of the people involved in this ugly episode have endorsed Karen Bass, I hope she'll do the right thing and demand for their accountability and renounce the endorsement of those who used hate speech. As your Mayor, I will work to unite us, not divide us the way this ugly episode has."
Congressman Tony Cárdenas
"The callous and racist language we heard used by Los Angeles City Councilmembers is appalling. History has shown us time and again that we can achieve meaningful progress when we set aside our differences and lead with compassion and empathy. This is a reminder that we must continue to work together to collectively build bridges between all of the beautiful and diverse communities of Los Angeles. Council President Martinez must resign from her leadership position and work to mend the pain she has caused Councilman Mike Bonin’s family, her constituents and all Angelenos."
City Attorney Mike Feuer
"I was shocked to read those horrifying comments. There can never be any room for racism, or homophobia, in Los Angeles. We must be better than that."
Mayor Eric Garcetti
"The Los Angeles I love is a welcoming and nurturing place. As mayor, as a father and as an Angeleno, I am saddened by what I read. There is no place in our city family for attacks on colleagues and their loved ones, and there is no place for racism anywhere in L.A. Everyone in our city deserves to feel safe and treated with equal respect. These words fall short of those values," Garcetti said.
LA County District Attorney George Gascón
"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."
LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn
"The racism, bigotry, and cruelty revealed in this leaked audio is appalling. Words matter. The anti-Black prejudice on display in this conversation compromises the confidence any residents had in these councilmembers’ leadership. Councilwoman Nury Martinez must step down from her position as President of the council immediately, before her colleagues have to do it. And how sad that Mike and Sean’s young son Jacob, who is the grandson of the late great ILWU labor leader Dave Arian, was the brunt of such heartless and vicious words. What this city now needs is a Truth and Reconciliation process with real accountability and repair. I love this city and we need to find a pathway forward where all people can feel represented equally."
LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore
"Today’s revelation of the remarks by our members of our council leaders hurts me to my core. This is not the Los Angeles I know or reflective of the beliefs of the women & men of LAPD. Such remarks are unacceptable in any setting. A dark day for our City of Angels."
Gov. Gavin Newsom
"Words matter, and racist language can do real harm. I'm encouraged that those involved in this have apologized and begun to take responsibility for their actions."These comments have no place in our state, or in our politics, and we must all model better behavior to live the values that so many of us fight every day to protect."
Sen. Alex Padilla
"I am appalled at the racist, dehumanizing remarks made by Los Angeles city officials and leaders that were made public yesterday. As a father, I am offended that an innocent child was a target of these remarks.
At a time when our nation is grappling with a rise in hate speech and hate crimes, these racist comments have deepened the pain that our communities have endured. Los Angeles deserves better. I call on Los Angeles City Council members Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo to resign and take full responsibility.
At this critical time for the city and the nation, we must continue to build unity and solidarity within all our communities and we must recommit to the struggle for equity and justice for all."
Black Lives Matter LA
"The resignation of @CD6Nury as Los Angeles City Council President is just a beginning. We’re calling for her to step down from her council seat along with the other 3 racists. We want @mikebonin to serve out the remainder of the term as Council President."
California Legislative Black Caucus
"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 that young Black child a little monkey and suggest that he be taken around a corner and beaten, is utterly reprehensible.We are not monkeys and our children are not here to be beaten into submission.The conversation among Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon, Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera reveals an appalling effort to decentralize Black voices during the critical redistricting process, and once again paints the Black community as an enemy of our Latinx brothers and sisters with whom we share a great deal of mutual love and respect.
Angelinos should not be baited into a proxy war for politicians to keep a paycheck. Angelinos deserve better than to be manipulated into the false premise that one community must suffer for another community to survive.Finally, no matter how nuanced you try to spin it, repeatedly referring to the only two openly gay councilmembers as "diva" and "little bitch" are just synonyms for more aggressive anti-gay hate speech. This rhetoric is purely homophobic and shows a deep lack of respect for the communities we are entrusted to represent.
Our LGBTQ family are not punching bags and these comments reveal the true nature of your hidden contempt for others.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. African Americans have been bridge-builders for over 400 years yet are constantly being tossed into the river by individuals within the groups we march alongside. We need true allies, not wolves in sheep’s clothing.Therefore, we, the members of the California Legislative Black Caucus, call for the immediate resignations of Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon."
California Nurses Association
"The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United today called on Los Angeles City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera to resign their positions. Martinez Tuesday morning resigned as Council President but apparently remains on the Council.Apologies are insufficient to repair the damage all of them have done to the broader community.
The fundamental problem is not the leak of the audio from a secret meeting, it is the vile and disgraceful racist comments expressed in this meeting.We are also appalled at the heartless and harmful comments directed at Councilmember Mike Bonin and his family. They deserve our respect and support.Each one of these individuals should have plenty of opportunity to reflect on why they would perpetuate racist stereotypes and to consider how they can make amends to a community whose public trust they have violated – out of the office they now hold.Every one of these individuals holds an elected position. The council members are obligated to represent all of their constituents and serve as a model for the entire community, not just one ethnicity or nationality.
Similarly, as the top official of a labor federation that represents multiple unions and speaks for working people across Los Angeles County, Herrera must be a champion for all of them.Each of them violated the fundamental bond that is their privileged charge for the elected positions they hold. They should be promoting racial and community healing, not racial division.Apologies are not enough. It starts with real accountability."
Los Angeles Unified denounces the racist remarks made by sitting Los Angeles City Council members. It's disheartening that in 2022 children and entire ethnic groups are being attacked by individuals perpetuating
small-minded perceptions. While this is a disturbing learning moment for our community, we must recognize that these racist attitudes persist and continue working to stamp out the ugliest parts of our history and bias. We stand in absolute and unapologetic condemnation against these remarks. Los Angeles Unified remains committed to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all families and employees throughout the District."
"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.
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.
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."
United Teachers Los Angeles
"At a time when solidarity is critical to our futures, rather than uplifting marginalized communities and people, these elected officials saw fit to create a space of racial divisiveness and engage in hateful, racist, and colorist comments toward Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Armenian, and LGBTQ+ communities. When anti-Black rhetoric continues leading to the death of Black folx to this day, it is abhorrent that these elected officials would speak and condone racist slurs and words of violence against a Black child — especially from the mouth of a former LAUSD School Boardmember in a BIPOC community.
As educators, we are here to make sure our students and our communities do not face this type of harm. We expect better, and Los Angeles deserves better, than political leaders who perpetuate cycles of violence and freely spew viciousness behind closed doors when they think they cannot be heard and held accountable. It is deplorable that this is what is thought and said about the most marginalized in our communities by leaders in the halls of our city and in the house of labor. It is shameful what is not said in response; silence is complicity. And it is reprehensible to know this is taking place when and where decisions are being made that will have ongoing effects and repercussions for generations of citizens. We can and MUST rebuild from this.
We call for unity, education, and building toward justice in our city — not hot air and hollow apologies. We call for solidarity and leaders who have the best interests for the people of Los Angeles at heart. We cannot let this continue or consume the soul of this city, when this type of harm toward working class families and marginalized communities is already so pervasive around us. This is why we must hold elected officials and community leaders accountable to their actions and uplift those that will stand for economic and racial justice, not the status quo.
UTLA calls for the immediate resignations of Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember Kevin de León, Councilmember Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera."