Los Angeles City Council Tries To Recover After Angered Protesters Gather To Demand 3 Council Members Resign Over Racist Remarks

A Black, White, Latino and LGBTQ coalition staged a raucous protest in response to a recording in which the council president compared a Black boy to a monkey.

The Los Angeles City Council attempted to reconvene Wednesday (Oct. 12), one day after angry protesters packed the chamber to demand the immediate resignations of three Latino council members,  the Associated Press reports.

The three Democrats, former City Council President Nury Martinez, who announced she is taking a leave of absence, and Councilmen Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, faced fury over a secretly recorded private discussion in October 2021 that involved racist insults and slurs, including referring to a Black child as a monkey.

City Council members could possibly vote Wednesday on whether to censure the three members since it cannot expel them under the current rules.

The Los Angeles Times reports that some protesters on Tuesday wore black T-shirts with white letters that read “I’m with the Blacks.” It’s a reference to Martinez commenting on the recording that she believes L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón would support Black residents in the contentious redistricting process.

“F— that guy. ... He’s with the Blacks,” the first Latina council president is heard saying. Martinez, 49, stepped down on Monday (Oct. 10) from the powerful position that she’s held since 2019.

Protesters chanted fuera — “out” in Spanish — using the names of Cedillo, De León and Martinez, and they yelled “shut it down” as council members entered the chamber.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday added his voice to the protests, calling on the three fellow Democrats to step down.

"He believes that they all should resign," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. "The language that was used and tolerated during that conversation was unacceptable and it was appalling."

RELATED: Los Angeles City Council President’s Racist Comments Lead To Her Resignation From Position And Calls For Her Removal

According to audio released by The Times, Martinez said that fellow Democratic Councilman Mike Bonin was using his Black son as an "accessory" and described him in Spanish as "ese changito," which translates to "that little monkey."

Martinez also referenced the child “bouncing around on a float” in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade: “They’re raising him like a little white kid… I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”

In the recording, Martinez mocked Indigenous Mexicans from the state of Oaxaca who migrated to Los Angeles, calling them “ugly” and "short little dark people.”

Protesters went silent at the Council meeting Tuesday when Bonin spoke.

“I take a lot of hits, and I know I practically invite a bunch of them. But my son? It makes my soul bleed,” an emotional Bonin said, according to the Times.

He continued: “I know I can never really know or comprehend the real weight of the daily relentless anti-Black racism my son is going to face. But man, I know the fire that you feel when someone tries to destroy Black boy joy. Man, it’s a rage.”

Multiple people involved in L.A. politics have called for Martinez, de Leon, and Cedillo’s resignations including Mayor Eric Garcetti, mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso and Sen. Alex Padilla.

The controversy comes just weeks before the city’s Nov. 8 election and brings race and racism front and center at a time when Los Angeles is dealing with multiple problems including recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and rampant homelessness.

Bass released a statement charging the three councilmembers with attempting to “divide and conquer” the city.

The heat will likely remain on Martinez until she decides to resign from the council completely. New reports have surfaced alleging that she also made anti-Semitic comments and disparaging remarks about Armenians also.

According to The Times, Martinez was heard on the recording saying “Judíos,” which means Jews in Spanish, “cut their deal with South L.A,” speaking to Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, who also resigned his position over the scandal. Herrera responded: “I’m sure Katz and his crew have an agenda.” To which Martinez said, “They are gonna screw everybody else.”

She also made remarks about California Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, and Councilmember Paul Krekorian both Armenian-Americans.

“He also wants his guy elected,” Martinez said, in reference to Krekorian. “So he needs a district that Adrin Nazarian could win it. That’s what they want. They want to assure, they want to be reassured that they have, not an Armenian district in the Valley, ‘cause that doesn’t exist, but they want as many Armenians in that district as possible to be able to play.”

During the meeting, California Assemblymember Isaac Bryan, who represents a large district on the west side of Los Angeles and like Bonin’s son, was adopted by White parents, said the city could move forward if the three councilmembers resigned.

“Trust me, there will be a healing, because everybody in this room and everybody in this city wants that healing,” Bryan said. “But we can’t have it without accountability.”

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