Two members of the Los Angeles City Council issued statements of apology Sunday following a report published by the Los Angeles Times included the leaked audio transcript of offensive and racist remarks that were made during a private meeting. A third council member said he had no recollection of the conversation.
In the leaked audio, which was summarized by the Times but was originally posted on Reddit and remains readily available on social media, board president Nury Martinez can be heard making derisive and racist comments about the boy by Mike Bonin, a member of the District Council 11. .
Bonin, who is white, has an adopted son who is Black. In the leaked audio, Martinez can be heard describing Bonin’s son as “ese changuito,” or that monkey, according to the Times. At one point, Martinez even refers to Bonin as a “little bitch.”
The comments were made during a discussion regarding Bonin and his son participating in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade. many years ago. Bonin and his son were on a float with other members of the Los Angeles political scene, and Martinez apparently was dissatisfied with the child’s behavior, saying that he almost overturned the float. He can also be heard accusing Bonin of raising the child as a “white boy”.
The meeting, which the Times reports took place last October, included Council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
De León at one point accuses Bonin of treating his son as an accessory, comparing him to a designer handbag. He also referred to Bonin as the “fourth Black member” of the board, the Times reports.
The meeting was part of a larger discussion regarding the city’s redistricting that happens once every ten years. Those present were critical of the maps drawn up by the district commission and expressed their frustration with the process.
On Sunday, Martinez released a statement that read in part:
“In a moment of intense frustration and anger, I let the situation get the best of me and I hold myself responsible for these comments. For that, I’m sorry.”
The statement continued with Martinez saying she was concerned about the potential negative impact redistricting could have on “communities of color.” He added that his past work on the board “speaks for itself.”
De León published a statement of his own, in which he expressed his regret for the participation and sometimes condoned the remarks.
“There were comments made in the context of this meeting that are completely inappropriate; and I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to some insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private. I have reached out to that colleague personally “. the statement read. “On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard.”
The Times contacted Cedillo and Herrera for statements about the leaked audio. Cedillo told the Times he had no recollection of the meeting, while a representative for Herrera criticized the newspaper for publishing transcripts from the leaked audio, which they said was illegally released.
Bonin released a statement Sunday afternoon in which he said he and his husband were “stunned, angry and absolutely disgusted” by the comments made toward their son.
“We love our son, a beautiful and cheerful child, and our family is hurting today. No child should ever be subjected to such racist, mean and dehumanizing comments, especially from a public official,” Bonin’s statement read in depart “It hurts that one of our son’s first encounters with overt racism comes from some of the most powerful public officials in Los Angeles.”
Bonin has since called on Martinez, de León and Cedillo to resign from the City Council.