LAPD investigating whether recording of Nury Martinez calling Black child 'monkey' was made 'illegally'
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Los Angeles detectives are investigating whether a disturbing recording made last year where city councilmembers passed racist remarks was made illegally. Democrats on the Los Angeles City Council have been accused of making racist remarks about a colleague’s Black child. In a leaked audio recording, Council President Nury Martinez was heard referring to her colleague Mike Bonin’s son as “ese changito,” which means “that little monkey” in Spanish, The Los Angeles Times reported. Martinez, who is Latina, was also heard saying Bonin was raising her child “like a little white kid".
"The department has initiated a criminal investigation into an allegation of eavesdropping,' Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said during a media availability in response to a question from The Associated Press. Ron Herrera, head of the LA Federation of Labor, resigned from his position on Monday, October 24, over the leaked audio clip. Martinez also resigned on October 10 after protestors besieged her house.
Under California law, all parties must consent to the recording of private conversations or phone calls. In case there is no consent on one party's part, the one who made the recording could face criminal and civil penalties. Moore said that some people involved in the incident, inluding Kevin de León, Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Herrera, approached the LAPD and sought to open an investigation. "This (request) was done by the principals - this wasn't done through some intermediary or otherwise," he said.
Outside the home of LA City Council President Nury Martinez, protesters are asking for her resignation and playing the leaked recordings on a loudspeaker. pic.twitter.com/PJNgXOpfQG— Jon peltz (@JonnyPeltz) October 10, 2022
Detectives have interviewed the group trying to find out why they think the recording was made "unlawfully and surreptitiously". "We'll also look, as far as possible, to understand how such a recording was made and identify, if possible, the person or persons responsible," the chief said.
In the recording, Martinez referred to the toddler as “su negrito," which is a derogatory term for a black person in Spanish. In the conversation, which is about an hour long, she called Bonin, who is white, "that little b***h".
Kevin de León, a member of the city council who unsuccessfully ran for LA mayor and California senate, was caught saying in the recording that Bonin, also a Democrat, treated his child like an accessory. He said the councilman handled his child similar to “when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag," a report said.
These comments were made while the council members were discussing redistricting during a meeting in October 2021. Also involved in the conversation were nother councilman, Gil Cedillo, and a top LA County labor official. The audio was initially posted on Reddit by a user who has now been suspended. It is unclear who recorded it.
“Wow, you know it happens, but when you actually hear it, it’s unbelievable,” the user said in text that accompanied the audio. “The labor movement is in bed with City Hall.” Meanwhile, Bonin said, "I’m disgusted and angry and heartsick," adding that he us still “digesting” the remarks.
“It’s fair game to attack me but my son?” Bonin said, adding, “You have to be pretty petty and insecure and venomous to attack a child. He wasn’t even three years old. Other than that, I’m speechless.” Bonin also released a statement on his and his family's behalf on Twitter, condemning what happened. "We are appalled, angry and absolutely disgusted that Nury Martinez attacked out son with horrific racist slurs, and talked about her desire to physically harm him,” Bonin wrote. “It’s vile, abhorrent, and utterly disgraceful. The City Council needs to remove her as Council President immediately, and she needs to resign from office. Any parent reading her comments will know she is unfit for public office.”
Their statement continued, “We love our son, a beautiful, joyful 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. It is painful to know he will someday read these comments. … It hurts that one of our son’s earliest encounters with overt racism comes from some of the most powerful public officials in Los Angeles. As parents of a Black child, we condemn the entirety of the recorded conversation, which displayed a repeated and vulgar anti-Black sentiment, and a coordinated effort to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles. The conversation revealed several layers of contempt for the people of Los Angeles, and a cynical, ugly desire to divide the city rather than serve it.”
Our family statement about today's ugly and hateful news. pic.twitter.com/0fPPXwsS5B— Mike Bonin (@mikebonin) October 9, 2022
In the audio, Martinez was also heard attacking progressive LA District Attorney George Gascón, saying “F**k that guy, he’s with the Blacks,” Knock LA reported. Martinez released an apology to The Los Angeles Times after her comments were exposed. “In a moment of intense frustration and anger, I let the situation get the best of me. I hold myself accountable for these comments. For that I am sorry,” she said.
“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,” she added. “My work speaks for itself. I’ve worked hard to lead this city through its most difficult time.”