Nury Martinez has resigned from the Los Angeles City Council after a recording was leaked in which she is heard making racist comments about a colleague’s son. Martinez had previously resigned as president of the council on Monday.
“It is with a broken heart that I resign my seat for Council District 6, the community in which I grew up and my home,” Martinez said in a statement Wednesday. “When I ran for office in 2013, I wanted to see a change in my community and fight for my neighbors. It’s been a long time coming. No one expected me to win, but with the support of residents across the region I overcame that challenge and I won the seat for Council District 6. I was honored to serve in the role of a lifetime: to be a representative of my neighbors.”
Martinez, O first Latina to serve as president of the Los Angeles City Council, did not appear at Tuesday’s council meeting, taking what he called a “leave of absence.”
Her comments were recorded around October 2021 during a conversation about the redistricting process, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The paper reports that Martinez, Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera attended the call, where they also discussed Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who had was indicted on federal corruption charges. Herrera also resigned from his position on Monday after the audio was leaked.
During the conversation, according to the newspaper, Martinez referred to Councilman Mike Bonin’s son, who is black, as “Parece changuito,” which translates from Spanish to English as “that little monkey.”
Martinez is also heard on the recording complaining about the child’s behavior at a Martin Luther King Day parade, saying Bonin’s son was misbehaving on a float, which she might have overturned if she and the other women on the float they did not enter as a parent of this child”.
“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘This kid needs a beatdown.’ Let me take it to the corner and then I’ll bring it back.”
The Times reported that Martinez and the other Latino leaders on the call apparently did not know they were being recorded. It remains unclear who recorded the audio and leaked it.
“As a mother, I know better and I’m sorry,” Martinez said in an earlier statement Monday morning. “I am truly ashamed. I know this is the result of my own actions.”
Addressing Bonin and his husband, Martinez said in the statement, “I’m sorry to your whole family that I put you through this.”
All three members heard on the call have faced local and national pressure to resign.
In response to Martinez’s resignation, the office of California Governor Gavin Newsom he tweeted“This is the right move. What was said by these elected leaders is deeply troubling and racism cannot be tolerated in California.”
White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre he told reporters on Tuesday that President Biden has been closely following the history of the Los Angeles City Council and believes that all parties to the call should recuse themselves, either for using or tolerating such “abhorrent” language.
“Look, the president is happy to see that one of the participants in that conversation has resigned,” Jean-Pierre said. “But everyone should. He believes everyone should resign. The language that was used and tolerated during this conversation was unacceptable and it was abhorrent. They should all resign.”
Mark Strassmann and Kathryn Watson contributed reporting.