Former City Councilman Mike Bonin, whose son was the target of racist comments in a leaked 2021 conversation with two other council members and a top county labor official, has offered a blunt description of Councilman Kevin de Leon’s participation in the discussion.
De Leon, the only council member who took part in the conversation who remains on the council, has defied widespread calls to resign. His attendance at the two most recent council meetings has ignited another chorus of demands that he step down.
Council President Nury Martinez and Ron Herrera, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, both resigned days after the recording was leaked, and Councilman Gil Cedillo’s term ended last week after he lost his bid for re-election in June.
Bonin wrote a lengthy Twitter thread on Friday, noting that it was de Leon who “brought his son into the damn conversation.”
On the recording, de Leon was the first participant to mention Bonin’s 2-year-old Black son after Martinez accused Bonin — who is white — of thinking that “he’s Black.”
“His kid is,” de Leon responds.
Martinez then 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 nearby hadn’t stepped 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 Leon then 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 Leon said on CNN on Tuesday that he “shouldn’t have said what I said,” but claimed that he made the comparison because of Martinez’s penchant for luxury handbags.
Bonin, who departed the council last week after deciding not to seek re-election, said de Leon did more than just fail to intervene in the conversation.
“He contributed to it, advanced it and broadened it,” Bonin said. “He built an argument against Black political power and plotted to diminish it.”
Bonin noted that he was not de Leon’s colleague anymore, again urging the embattled councilman to resign.
“I’m not an elected official with power,” Bonin said. “I’m just a father. The father of a Black son in a racist society. I must speak up for my son, and I must speak out against anti-Black racism.”