The president and at least one other member of the Los Angeles City Council have been told to resign for allegedly making racist comments about a fellow lawmaker’s son, who is Black.
In audio released on Sunday from a meeting last year, which was obtained by The Los Angeles Times, council president Nury Martinez alleged that a fellow lawmaker’s toddler son was a “monkey”, while speaking in Spanish, the report said.
Referring to councillor Mike Bonin’s Black son’s alleged misbehaviour in the past, Ms Martinez then allegedly commented in front of other council members: “I was like, this kid needs a beatdown.”
The remarks, which the LA Times reported were recorded in October 2021 and released on Reddit on Sunday ahead of a 8 November election, have seen calls for Ms Martinez and other council members involved in the conversation to step down.
“The city council needs to remove her as president immediately, and she will need to resign from office” said Mr Bonin in a statement on Twitter. “We love our son, a beautiful joyful child, and our family is hurting today”.
The councillor, whose son is adopted, added that he and his husband were “appalled, angry and disgusted” by the council president’s comments and that “no child should be subjected to such racist, mean and dehumanising comments, especially from a public official”.
Ms Martinez said in a statement to the LA Times that her remarks came “in a moment of intense frustration and anger” while discussing redistricting proposals for the city last year and that she “let the situation get the best of me. I hold myself accountable for these comments. For that I am sorry.”
Councillor Kevin de León was also reportedly heard in the audio commenting that Mr Bonin was the council’s “fourth Black member” because of his apparent opposition to more Latino representation in the redistricting plans.
As the LA Times reported, Latinos in Los Angeles make up roughly half the population but only a third of third of council districts, leading to complaints the community is underrepresented.
“Mike Bonin won’t f****** ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a f****** word about us,” Mr de León was reported by saying by the LA Times.
He said on Sunday that his comments had been “wholly inappropriate” and that he had fallen “short of the expectations we set for our leaders” in remarks reported by the paper.
Mr Herrera added: “I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private. I’ve reached out to that colleague personally.”
Other comments made by the councillors at the recorded meeting included Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera allegedly calling Mr Bonin “that little b****” – remarks for which he apologised on Sunday, the report said.
Councillor Gil Cedillo, who was also present, meanwhile told the LA Times in a brief statement on Sunday night: “I don’t have a recollection of this conversation.”
Among those to condemn the attack on Mr Bonin were Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and California Democrat congressman, as well as Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who said: “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”.
The Independent has approached Ms Martinez, Mr de León, Mr Cedillo and Mr Herrera for comment,