Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez apologized Sunday for using racist language in an attack on colleague Mike Bonin during a conversation in October 2021.
“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,” Martinez said in a statement provided to City News Service.
“The context of this conversation was concern over the redistricting process and concern about the potential negative impact it might have on communities of color. My work speaks for itself. I’ve worked hard to lead this city through its most difficult time.”
The remarks were made during a talk with Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de LeÃ³n and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, in a conversation that focused on the politically sensitive process of redrawing council district boundaries. Their talk also touched on the efforts to replace Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who’s been indicted on federal corruption charges.
It was not clear who recorded and leaked the conversation, which appeared on Reddit but was later removed from the site. CNS reviewed the conversation, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Among other comments, Martinez belittled Bonin, who is white and has a Black son, and criticized the child for his behavior at a Martin Luther King Day parade, saying Bonin’s son was misbehaving on a float, which might have tipped over if she and the other women on the float didn’t step in to “parent this kid.”
“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez said. “I was like, `this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”’
Martinez also called the child “ese changuito,” Spanish for “that little monkey.”
De LeÃ³n also criticized Bonin. “Mike Bonin won’t (f—ing ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a f—ing word about us,” he said.
De LeÃ³n also compared Bonin’s handling of his son at the MLK Parade to “when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag.”
“Su negrito, like on the side,” Martinez added, using a Spanish term for a Black person that’s considered demeaning by many.
De LeÃ³n did not respond to a request for comment from CNS, and did not comment for The Times story.
Bonin told The Times he was at 2017’s MLK parade with his young son.
“There’s more I will say later, but right now because I’m still digesting it. I’m disgusted and angry and heartsick. It’s fair game to attack me but my son? You have to be pretty petty and insecure and venomous to attack a child. He wasn’t even 3 years old. Other than that, I’m speechless.”
A spokesman for Bonin told CNS that the councilman has no further comment beyond how he responded in The Times story.
At another point, Martinez recalls a conversation with businessman Danny Bakewell about possibly transferring Los Angeles International Airport out of Bonin’s council district and into that of Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson.
The council president says she told Bakewell to “go get the airport from his little brother — that little bitch Bonin.”
On the subject of Ridley-Thomas’ suspension, Martinez said Controller Ron Galperin would decide whether Ridley-Thomas still gets paid.
“You need to go talk to that white guy,” she says. “It’s not us. It’s the white members on this council that will motherf— you in a heartbeat.”
Martinez also took aim at Los Angeles County District George GascÃ³n in profane terms, after the group appeared to discuss whether GascÃ³n would endorse Cedillo in his re-election campaign against Eunessis Hernandez.
“F— that guy. (inaudible) … He’s with the Blacks,” she said of GascÃ³n.
A spokesperson for GascÃ³n did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Herrera has not commented on the story, but a lawyer representing the L.A. County Federation of Labor sent a letter to The Times alleging that the conversation was recorded in violation of California’s privacy and recording laws.