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Leaked racist remarks from former Los Angeles City Council president ignite outrage

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The Los Angeles City Council remains in turmoil following leaked audio of racist comments made one year ago by Nury Martinez, who resigned as council president on Monday after the revelation. Martinez was a no-show at Tuesday’s meeting, taking what she called a “leave of absence,” but residents expressed their outrage and demanded resignations. 

“Shame on you! Shame on you” one man yelled at the council members. 

The moment of backroom bigotry happened during a call that included Martinez and councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin DeLeon. Cedillo and DeLeon showed up to Tuesday’s meeting, but never spoke. All three, who are Latino Democrats, have apologized. 

It’s unclear who recorded and leaked the call in which Martinez referred to a colleague’s son, who is Black, as “Parece changuito,” which translates from Spanish to English as “that little monkey.” 

Hateful comments were also directed at Indigenous people, gays and Blacks. No one is heard pushing back. 

“On these tapes I have heard the worst of what Los Angeles is — trusted servants who voiced hate and bile,” said councilmember Mike Bonin, whose son was the target of Martinez’s slur. 

The furious father said Martinez must first resign, then ask for forgiveness. 

Gustavo Arellano, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, said he expects the councilmembers will be forced to resign. 

“I’m glad Latinos especially are being some of the loudest voices against them,” he said. “They’re going to have to step down.” 

But when that will be, he says, is “a question only their arrogance can answer.” 


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