los angeles city hall
Los Angeles City Hall. Photo by John Schreiber

Even though she stepped down as L.A. City Council president, a variety of community groups Monday added their voices to those demanding that Nury Martinez also resign her council seat following the revelation of racist remarks she made during a recorded conversation last year.

“There is no room for racist language and hateful incendiary rhetoric to coexist with the duties of serving in public office, especially in a place as diverse as the city of Los Angeles,” according to a statement Monday from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “We call on Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez to resign from her leadership post and office, and also ask that the other City Council members involved, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, assess the actions they need to take.

“Words matter, and we cannot turn a blind eye to anti-Black or homophobic sentiments. The time for unity is now, and we stand ready to work with our brothers and sisters throughout the community to move the city of Los Angeles forward.”

The community group Union del Barrio also issued a statement blasting remarks by Martinez and de León and called for their immediate resignations from the council, along with Cedillo.

“These divisive statements by career politicians are an affront to the decades of work among Black and Brown communities to build unity and solidarity,” according to the group. “However, let us be clear, the grossly reactionary and backwards way of thinking of these `community leaders’ DOES NOT represent the principles and values of the Black and Brown community.

The California Federation of Teachers issued a statement calling the comments on the audio recording “appalling and unacceptable.”

“Leaders in our local, state and national governments must be held to the highest standards, advocating for all members of their community, and when they fail those standards, they must step down or be removed,” according to the union. “We must unite our communities against hate and fear. That is why we, the leaders of the CFT, stand with Council member Mike Bonin and other city leaders in asking for the individuals who made these hurtful comments to resign. We must unit, not divide our communities.”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, called Sunday for the City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti to publicly censure Martinez and de León.

“Their apology for using terms such as `little monkey’ to describe an African-American youth for instance promotes and reinforces the vilest stereotypes of African-Americans (and) is not enough,” Hutchinson said in a statement provided to CNS. “Nothing less than a full censureship by the city council and endorsed by Garcetti will send the message that vile racist stereotypes will not be tolerated and will be quickly punished.”

Hutchinson said he “was not surprised at the abysmal ignorance of Nury Martinez and Kevin de León and others on the vile history of the monkey stereotype of Blacks.” He added that he personally sent Martinez and the Council members his past article on the history of the stereotype and how it has been used to consistently demean Black people for decades by white people. “Now the twist is a respected top Los Angeles Hispanic political leader repeats that stereotype,” he said in the statement.

Najee Ali, founder of Project Islamic Hope, said Martinez should step down as council president, although he stopped short of calling for her resignation from the council.

“She was voted in along with de León, by the district residents. We’re not speaking for their council constituents. But she is the council president, and we can’t have that type of racist language being espoused by the council president.”

The civil rights activist said what made it even worse was that he’s counted Martinez and de León as “friends and allies” over the years.

“The apology was needed, but it’s not nearly enough for the injury that was inflicted upon the entire city,” Ali said. “And what made it that much more damaging is that we considered them progressives. But it sounded like they were talking at a Trump rally.”

Ali was planning a news conference on Monday backed by other community leaders.

“Everyone is outraged throughout the city,” he said.

And the Los Angeles Police Protective League board members voiced their opinion, stating, “We are disgusted and appalled at the racist, demeaning and violent words used by the used by the City Council president and another member of the City Council targeting Mike Bonin his family and others.”

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