Three members of the Los Angeles City Council were forced to apologize on Sunday after audio of its president making shocking, racist remarks about a colleague to a local labor leader were leaked earlier this month.
The October 2021 conversation between council president Nury Martinez, members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, as well as Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, was initially about council members’ remarks over maps that had been put forward by the city’s redistricting commission.
In the audio, Martinez can be heard criticizing fellow colleague and council member Mike Bonin several times, first referring to him as a ‘little b****,’ before sensationally saying that he brings his adopted son around town with him like ‘an accessory.’
De León seemed to agree with his colleague’s comments, as he compared Bonin bringing his kid around LA to ‘when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag,’ according to the leaked audio.
Further into the dialogue, Martinez described the minor as ‘su negrito’, a derogatory expression in Spanish for a black person, and ‘ese changuito,’ which translates to ‘that little monkey.’
Los Angeles Council President Nury Martinez has been pressured to resign after a leaked audio file in which she called a colleague a ‘little b***’ and his black, three-year-old son a ‘little monkey’ was released on Reddit earlier this month
LA City Council member Mike Bonin (pictured) and his adoptive son (left) were unknowingly subjected to derogatory remarks from Martinez and two other city council members in an October 2021 conversation
The Democrat, who is Latina, also said Bonin had been raising his son ‘like a little white kid,’ who needs a ‘beatdown’.
‘Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back,’ the city council president added.
On Sunday, she apologized for the comments: ‘In a moment of intense frustration and anger, I let the situation get the best of me and I hold myself accountable for these comments. For that I am sorry.’
‘The context of this conversation was concern over the redistricting process and concern about the potential negative impact it might have on communities of color,’ she added. ‘My work speaks for itself. I’ve worked hard to lead this city through its most difficult time.’
In reaction, Bonin told the LA Times that he felt ‘disgusted and angry and heartsick’ by the leaked audio.
‘It’s fair game to attack me but my son?’ he added, calling for the resignation of all three city Latino council members. ‘You have to be pretty petty and insecure and venomous to attack a child. He wasn’t even 3 years old.
‘Other than that, I’m speechless.’
Bonin and his husband Sean Arian said in a statement on Sunday that they felt ‘disgusted and angry and heartsick’ by the leaked audio
Council members Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo were also part of the leaked conversation, in which Leon agreed that Bonin carried his son ‘like an accessory’, comparing it to Martinez wandering around with her Louis Vuitton bag
Ron Herrera – Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President – was also forced to apologize after being present in the 30-minute conversation from last year
The audio was first shared on Reddit, though it remains unclear who recorded it and how.
‘Wow, you know it happens, but when you actually hear it, it’s unbelievable,’ a now-suspended Reddit user wrote as a caption along with the leaked audio. ‘The labor movement is in bed with City Hall.’
Martinez was also caught on tape using profanity when talking about LA District Attorney George Gascón.
‘F*** that guy, he’s with the Blacks,’ said the former member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.
On Sunday, De León, apologized for his comments, calling them ‘wholly inappropriate,’ adding that he fell ‘short of the expectations we set for our leaders.’
‘I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private,’ he added in a statement. ‘I’ve reached out to that colleague personally.’
Cedillo, however, told the LA Times that he didn’t ‘have a recollection of this conversation.’
Mike Bonin (left) and his partner Sean Arian (far right) with their adoptive son (center)
Martinez was also caught on tape saying ‘F***’ that guy, he’s with the black,’ when talking about LA District Attorney George Gascón
Herrera didn’t respond to request for comment on behalf of the LA Times. His lawyer, Julie Gutman Dickinson, who also represents the LA County Federation of Labor, stated that the conversation was ‘recorded in violation of California’s privacy and recording laws on LA County Federation of Labor property.’
However, the LA Times countered, as its General Counsel Jeffrey Glasser said ‘it is a fundamental principle in the United States that we do not prohibit or punish the receipt and publication of newsworthy information.’
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti remained tight lipped over whether the three city council members should stay in position or resign.
‘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 LA,’ he told the LA Times.