Los Angeles City Council president Nury Martinez has resigned after recordings of her making racist remarks were made public. In the recording, which took place last October, Martinez discusses redistricting efforts with fellow councilmembers Kevin de León, Gil Cedillo, and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. Things take a turn towards the grotesque when the subject of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón comes up, and Martinez says, “Fuck that guy, he’s with the Blacks.”
Martinez’s vitriol didn’t end there. She recalled being on a float on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with fellow councilmember Mike Bonin, who she referred to as a “little bitch.” She accused Bonin, a white man, of adopting his son, a Black boy, to carry him around like an accessory, while de León jokes that it’s just like when Martinez carries around a Goyard or Louis Vuitton bag. Martinez dug her heels even deeper, called the two-year-old boy a “little monkey” in Spanish, stated he could not be treated “like a little white kid,” and suggested he needed to be beaten in order to behave.
Martinez didn’t reserve comments to just Black people, either. She added in some colorist comments about fellow members of the Latin diaspora, calling Oaxacans “ugly” and “short little dark people.” While the other Los Angeles politicians are not heard saying anything as explicitly racist, they are all laughing, agreeing, and egging Martinez on.
It’s great that this has come to light. One of the most insidious aspects of racism is that it’s ingrained in the hearts and minds of people who have insurmountable power over our lives, who can pass laws and redistrict large cities with animus in their bones. However, since California is not a one-party consent state, whoever recorded and leaked Martinez’s comments—purposefully or not—could be on the hook legally. Julie Gutman Dickinson, a lawyer representing the L.A. County Federation of Labor, sent a letter to the Los Angeles Times saying the conversation violated California’s privacy and recording laws “on LA County Federation of Labor property.”
Will anybody actually pursue legal action? Who knows. Most of the people involved have released their statements, saying they’re sorry and this and that, blasé, blasé, blasé. You know the whole song and dance by now. If they really mean it, they’ll just resign and leave the public life for which they are unfit. That’s if they mean it.