LAPD launches investigation into leaked recording at center of City Hall racism scandal

The Los Angeles Police Department's Major Crimes Division has opened an investigation into the leaked conversation that led to the City Hall racism scandal to determine if the conversation was recorded illegally, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday.

"The department has initiated a criminal investigation into an allegation of eavesdropping relative to the (Los Angeles County Federation of Labor) meeting involving then-Council person Nury Martinez, Council member Gil Cedillo and Council member Kevin de León and the Fed President, Mr. (Ron) Herrera," Moore said Tuesday during a media availability.

"Our Major Crimes Division is conducting that, and we will bring our results to the appropriate prosecuting agency upon completion of that investigation."

It remains unknown who recorded the year-old, racism-filled conversation that took place at the offices of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, and who leaked it some two weeks ago — triggering a series of events that led Martinez to step down as City Council president and then quit the council altogether, and de León and Cedillo to face relentless calls for them to resign as well.

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The calls have come from virtually all their council colleagues, Mayor Eric Garcetti and as high up as President Joe Biden.

Herrera stepped down as president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor shortly after the leaked conversation became public.

De León has resisted calls for him to step down, while a spokesman for Cedillo has repeatedly said the councilman is "at a place of reflection" — though Cedillo only has a few weeks left on the council after losing his re-election bid.

Martinez and de León both made racially charged remarks during the conversation as the group was discussing the politically sensitive process of redrawing council district boundaries.

The conversation first appeared on Reddit before being removed from the social news aggregation, content rating, and discussion website.

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Among other comments in the recorded conversation, Martinez belittled Councilman Mike 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 and then I'll bring him back."'

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

De León also criticized Bonin, saying "Mike Bonin won't f---ing ever say peep about Latinos. He'll never say a f---ing word about us."

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.