- BBC News World
Los Angeles City Council President Nuri Martinez, one of the city’s most powerful Latino politicians, resigned Monday after a controversy created by leaked racist comments.
Among other derogatory comments, he claimed he was the African-American son of Councilman Mike Bone. “Looks like a monkey”. And he compared it to a companion his colleague wears “on his side”. “He brings it like this. During Black History Month (…). He brings his black boy As in page“.
The comments were made in the context of Meeting held in October 2021 with Council Members Gil Cedillo and Kevin De Leon and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
After the scandal broke, Herrera also announced his resignation on Monday, saying he had engaged in “intolerant and racist” behavior.
Talks were conducted by Los Angeles Times This Sunday, a month before the Nov. 8 mayoral election, coincides with midterm elections held every four years, halfway through a president’s term and crucial to the direction he takes the country.
According to the newspaper, there was a conversation ShareOne On the social network Reddit It’s not clear who posted it, by a now-suspended user.
Much of the exchange centered on council members’ frustration with the city’s redistricting commission’s proposed maps and the need to “ensure that majority-Latino districts don’t lose economic assets.” , according to the newspaper.
Latinos make up 50% of Los Angeles’ population, but their representation on the City Council is limited to districts led by Martinez, de Leon, and Cedillo.
In conversation recorded without the knowledge of its participants, they exposed tensions over representation between different ethnic groups.
By Mike Bonin He never said anything bad about Latinos. It says nothing about us“, De Leon, who has Guatemalan roots, is heard saying in the audio. He also calls Bonin, a white man, “the fourth black councilman.”
“Bonin thinks he’s a (…) black,” Martinez can be heard admitting. Following this the remarks already mentioned about his son, Cedillo and de Leon add others.
Martinez adds that the councilman and his partner are raising their son to be a “white boy,” adding, “This boy needs some hits. Let me take him to the corner and I’ll bring him back.”
Councilors also mention in a derogatory mannerAppearance of some neighboring countries From the Koreatown neighborhood, From the state of Oaxaca and belonging to various indigenous peoples of Mexico.
“I see a lot of short, dark-skinned people” is a phrase. “I don’t know where these people come from, which town they came from, how they came here… it’s so ugly,” said another.
Reactions to the leak were immediate, with Senator Alex Padilla — who studied with Martinez and his longtime ally — calling on mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso, council members and other officials and various organizations to call for Martinez and his resignation. Others involved in the conversation.
“We are Shocked, angry and completely disgusted Because Nuri Martinez attacked our son with vicious racist slurs and talked about wanting to physically harm him. It’s gross, disgusting and absolutely disgraceful,” Bonin and her husband, Sean Arians, said in a statement.
“There is no place for racist language and hateful rhetoric to go hand in hand with the duties of public service,” said the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (Naleo) of America.
Likewise, a series of protesters came to the Democrat’s home on Sunday with banners and megaphones demanding his resignation.
In view of this, the politician announced his resignation on Monday.
“I take responsibility for what I said and there was no justification for those comments. I am very sorry,” he said.
“As someone who believes deeply in the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize that my comments undermine that goal.”He added, without clarifying whether he had also resigned as councilor in addition to the post of chairman of the council.
Born in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles, to Mexican parents originally from Zacatecas, Martinez made history in 2019 by being named the city’s first Latino president of the city council.
Other councilors who were questioned in the debate and questioned for their comments apologized for their words.
De León said in a statement that the comments were “totally inappropriate” and that he did not live up to the requirements of his position.
“Words matter, and racist language can do real harm,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday.
“These ideas have no place in our state or in our politics. We must all shape our behavior to live up to the great values we fight to protect every day,” the Democrat said.
Now you can get notifications from BBC World. Download the latest version of our app and activate it so you never miss our best content.