Nury Martinez resigned from his seat on the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday, days after an explosive leaked audio of a racially offensive conversation was published.
“It is with a broken heart that I resign my seat for Council District 6, the community I grew up in and my home,” Martinez wrote in a lengthy resignation post.
Martinez told his constituents that it had been a privilege to serve them. “I hope you stay committed and continue to fight for your fair share of the city’s resources,” she said in the statement. “It’s hard to say goodbye, but please know that I was in this fight for you.”
“And finally, to all the little Latina girls in this town — I hope I’ve inspired you to dream beyond what you can see,” Martinez said in closing. “While I take time to look within and reflect, I ask you to give me space and privacy.”
Martinez is just the latest in a string of council members to be caught up in a scandal. Last year, Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas was charged with bribery and conspiracy, and was suspended by his colleagues.
Before that, city councilor Jose Huizar had been accused of racketeering, corruption and fraud – and was suspended six months before leaving office. Councilman Mitchell Englander resigned in 2018 amid a federal investigation. Englander was later convicted of conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation into Huizar.
In her lengthy resignation letter, Martinez described how her family had been her “greatest cheerleaders” and spoke of the sacrifices they had made for her. She also addressed her young daughter, saying: ‘I know I haven’t lived up to the expectations we have for our family recently. I swear to you that I will strive to be a better woman to make you proud.
The move came amid mounting pressure from all corners of politics, from President Biden to many community activists and fellow council members.
In this surreptitiously recorded conversation from October 2021, Martinez — while speaking with council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo as well as Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera — made remarks racist remarks and insults against various elected officials.
Martinez focused in particular on council member Mike Bonin, who is white, and Bonin’s young son, who is black. At one point, Martinez called Bonin “a little bitch” and called his son a “looks like changuitoor “like a monkey”. She also said Bonin’s son had misbehaved on a parade float and needed a “punch.” But that’s just one aspect of the leak, which sent shockwaves through City Hall and sparked widespread disgust and outrage.
The conversation focused heavily on council members’ frustration with the maps proposed by the city’s 21-member redistricting commission.
It remained private for nearly a year, until The Times published details of the registration on Sunday, just a month before a crucial municipal election. It was posted on Reddit, but it’s still unclear who recorded the audio, who uploaded it, and if anyone else was present.
Martinez had repeatedly apologized in recent days and announced that she was taking time off from the board. De León said he regretted his actions and “failed”. Cedillo said he should have interjected during the conversation, but did not mock his colleagues or make racist statements.
On Tuesday, Biden called on all three to step down.
“The president is happy to see that one of the participants in this conversation has resigned, but they all should,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, qualifying the language recorded during the conversation “unacceptable” and “appalling”. ”
Some members of the Los Angeles City Council responded to the furor by announcing a series of reform proposals. One would ask voters to expand the size of the council in 2024. Another would create a new committee to look at ways to limit corruption. A third would ensure that the next redistricting process — the subject of secret taping — is decided by an independent panel of citizens, not the council.
Board member Mitch O’Farrell, as interim chair, announced his support for these proposals. And he decried what he called “casual racism,” “odious language,” “dehumanizing racist reference” to Bonin’s son, “vilification of Indigenous peoples,” and “familiar tropes against LBGTQ+ people. “.
“For Los Angeles to heal and its city council to govern, there has to be accountability,” said O’Farrell, who took on the role of acting council president after Martinez resigned from that position on Monday, in a statement. communicated. “The resignation of Council member Nury Martinez is the necessary first step in this process. To this end, I reiterate my call on the members of the Council of León and Cedillo to also resign. There is no other way forward.