Two members of the Los Angeles City Council released apology statements Sunday after a report published by the Los Angeles Times included transcribed leaked audio of offensive and racist remarks that were made during a private meeting.
In the leaked audio, which was summarized by the Times but was originally posted to Reddit and remains readily available on social media, council President Nury Martinez can be heard making derisive and racist comments about the child of Mike Bonin, a Councilmember for the 11th District.
Bonin has an adopted son who is Black. In the leaked audio, Martinez can be heard describing Bonin’s son as “ese changuito,” or that little monkey, according to the Times. At one point, Martinez also refers to Bonin as a “little bitch.”
The comments were made during a discussion regarding Bonin and his son participating in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade several years ago. Bonin and his son were on a float with other members of the Los Angeles political scene, and Martinez apparently was dissatisfied with the boy’s behavior, saying he nearly tipped the float over. She can also be heard accusing Bonin of raising the child like a “little white kid.”
The meeting, which the Times reports happened last October, included fellow Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
De León at one point accuses Bonin of treating his son like an accessory, comparing him to a designer handbag. He also referred to Bonin as the council’s “fourth Black member,” the Times reports.
The meeting was part of a broader discussion regarding the city’s redistricting which happens once every ten years. Those in attendance were critical of the maps drawn up by the districting commission and voiced their frustration over the process.
On Sunday, Martinez released a statement that reads in part:
“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 statement continues with Martinez saying she was concerned about the potential negative impact that redistricting might have on “communities of color.” She added that her past work on the council “speaks for itself.”
De León released a statement of his own, in which he voices his regret for participating and at times condoning the remarks.
“There were comments made in the context of this meeting that are wholly inappropriate; and 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,” the statement reads. “On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”
The Times reached out to Cedillo and Herrera for statements on the leaked audio. Cedillo told the Times that he did not remember the meeting, while a representative of Herrera criticized the paper for publishing transcripts from the leaked audio, which they said was released illegally.
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