One day after the release of a recorded conversation in which she made a series of racially charged remarks, Nury Martinez stepped down Monday as president of the Los Angeles City Council, but calls persisted for her to resign from the council altogether.
Martinez issued a statement Monday announcing her decision to surrender the council presidency, but she did not resign her seat, so she will remain on the council.
She came under fire following the release Sunday of a conversation recorded in 2021 in which she made racist remarks aimed at Councilmember Mike Bonin’s 2-year-old son.
Martinez belittled 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.
“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.”
The conversation appeared on Reddit, but was later removed from the site.
Martinez issued a statement taking responsibility and saying there was no excuse for her comments.
“As someone who believes deeply in the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize my comments undercut that goal. Going forward, reconciliation will be my priority,” Martinez said. “I have already reached out to many of my Black colleagues and other Black leaders to express my regret in order for us to heal.”
Councilman Kevin de León, a former state senator, also made racially charged remarks during the conversation, which included Councilman Gil Cedillo and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. The group was discussing the politically sensitive process of redrawing council district boundaries.
De León also criticized Bonin during the conversation. “Mike Bonin won’t f—ing ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a f—ing word about us,” he said. And he referred to Bonin’s son using the demeaning Spanish phrase “su negrito.”
Bonin and his partner Sean Arian tweeted a lengthy statement from the family Sunday calling for the council to remove Martinez as president and for her and de León to resign their seats entirely.
A number of other elected officials and political organizations also called for resignations.
“There is no room for racist language and hateful incendiary rhetoric to coexist with the duties of serving in public office, especially in a place as diverse as the city of Los Angeles,” according to a statement Monday from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
“We call on Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez to resign from her leadership post and office, and also ask that the other City Council members involved, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, assess the actions they need to take.
The local chapter of activist group Black Lives Matter said Martinez, Cedillo, de León and Herrera should resign from their posts.
Martinez was the first Latina to become president of the city’s council in January 2020, according to her office website. She was first elected to city council in 2013.
City News Service and Reuters contributed to this article.