Los Angeles City Councilmember Nury Martinez has resigned from her position following the leak of a recorded conversation in which she can be heard making offensive and derogatory comments about a colleague, his child and members of the indigenous community.
The embattled councilmember resigned from her position as council president earlier this week and later announced that she planned to take a “leave of absence.”
Her resignation comes following intense public pressure from her constituents, other Los Angeles residents and several high-ranking members of the national political sphere, including President Joe Biden.
In a leaked audio conversation that was summarized by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, Martinez could be heard making derisive and racist comments about the child of Mike Bonin, the council member representing the 11th District.
Bonin, who is white, has an adopted son who is Black. In the leaked audio, Martinez can be heard describing Bonin’s son as a monkey in Spanish. She also refers to Bonin as a “little bitch,” and makes disparaging comments about members of the indigenous Oaxacan community, calling them “little short dark people.”
During a raucous and expletive-filled council meeting on Tuesday, Los Angeles residents called for Martinez to immediately resign, as well as demanding the resignations of councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo who were also heard on the leaked audio. Ron Herrera, one of L.A. County’s most influential labor leaders, resigned from his post as President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor on Monday.
During the closed-door meeting involving the four prominent political leaders, which the Times reported happened in October 2021, a discussion was held regarding the broader issues facing the council, including the recent once-a-decade redistricting process and the likely ouster of fellow councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was indicted on federal bribery charges.
The audio includes the councilmembers debating who would be a suitable City Council replacement that would be politically beneficial to the causes of the four speakers, should Ridley-Thomas be suspended by the council. Ridley-Thomas was ultimately suspended and replaced by Heather Hutt.
In a letter released Wednesday afternoon, Martinez reflected on her career in the council, describing her time as “extremely difficult,” adding that she hoped her work for the city inspired young Latina girls. Martinez was the first Latina president of the City Council.
While addressing her family in her resignation statement, she apologized for falling “short” of the expectations of her family, vowing to “strive to be a better woman to make you proud.”
Cedillo and de León have not yet announced any plans to resign at this time. Cedillo lost his re-election bid earlier this year and will be replaced on the council in the coming months by Eunisses Hernandez.
Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Eric Garcetti released a statement in which he said Martinez’s choice to resign was the correct one.
“Nury made the right decision, one that I realize is painful to her personally but unquestionably in the best interests of a city that I know she loves. Racism and hateful words cannot ever be overlooked by our community or within one’s self, and she needs the time and space to reflect, make amends, and move forward with her life,” Garcetti said.
The mayor also called for the two other council members heard on the tape to follow her example and resign as soon as possible.
Gov. Gavin Newsom echoed the sentiments by Garcetti, saying in a tweet, ”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.”