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LA Council Member Resigns After Racist Remarks Leak

Los Angeles City Council Member Nury Martinez on Wednesday resigned her office amid continuing fallout from a leaked audio recording in which Martinez and others use racist terms.


Martinez on Monday resigned as president of the Los Angeles City Council but did not give up her elected office.

On Wednesday afternoon, however, Martinez released a statement confirming she would step down altogether. The statement highlighted several of Martinez's efforts while in office but did not reference the audio recording that came to light over the weekend.

"I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments. I’m so sorry," Martinez said in an earlier statement. "In the end, it is not my apologies that matter most; it will be the actions I take from this day forward," Martinez said, announcing her resignation. 

In the recording, Martinez and two other city council members, as well as a county labor official, use the racist language while discussing the redistricting process.

The scandal comes as the city was already weighing an important November election for mayor and several city council positions. 

Audio from a meeting with Martinez, Council Members Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera feature Martinez describing the Black son of Council Member Mike Bonin in Spanish as "like a monkey." Elsewhere in the tape, Martinez and others speak derisively about Bonin, other council members and Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday. 

Martinez made disparaging comments about Oaxacans and said about Gascón, “F— that guy … He’s with the Blacks," according to the Times. 

De León appeared to compare Bonin's treatment of his child to Martinez holding a Louis Vuitton handbag. Martinez described the child as "like an accessory" for Bonin. 

The LA Times reported that the three council members largely discussed the then-ongoing redistricting process, a once-in-a-decade, highly debated undertaking that determines a council member's areas of jurisdiction. On Sunday, shortly after the story broke, Martinez issued a statement saying that she was angry with how the process was going and that her statements were made in anger about that.

De León also issued a statement of apology. Cedillo told the LA Times that he did not recall the conversation, which took place last year.

The scandal comes less than a week after the council voted both to end the city's long-running pandemic eviction protections and to institute a suite of new ones, the latter of which requires the council to vote on an as-yet-unwritten ordinance outlining the new renter protections.

The council has a tight deadline — the existing protections expire Jan. 31 — to get a draft and vote on their replacements. Tenant advocates have emphasized that avoiding a gap in coverage would be vital to keeping people in their homes. 

This leak is the latest in a string of scandals involving Los Angeles City Council members. In October 2021, Council Member and former County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas was charged with bribery and fraud and suspended from his role on the council.

CORRECTION, OCT. 12, 12:50 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story mistakenly characterized Council Member Mark Ridley-Thomas' status on the council. He has been suspended as a member of the council, but not officially removed. The story has been updated.

UPDATE, OCT. 12, 6:47 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to reflect Martinez's latest decision to resign from her office.