In response to a video in which Martinez made racial remarks and suggested using redistricting to reorganize power in the city, Nury Martinez, the president of the Los Angeles City Council, resigned from her position on Monday morning.
“I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments. I’m so sorry,” Martinez said in a lengthy resignation statement. “Going forward, reconciliation will be my priority. I have already reached out to many of my Black colleagues and other Black leaders to express my regret in order for us to heal.”
Martinez is stepping down as president, but she hasn’t indicated that she’ll leave her council seat, despite mounting pressure on her, two other council members, and a senior labor leader who were all seen on camera.
The tape shook California’s political scene over the weekend, inspiring outrage and demands that Martinez, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, and President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Ron Herrera step down from their positions.
The individuals on the tape should resign from their positions, according to a number of the municipal council’s 15 current members. On Monday, the California Federation of Teachers and the powerful labor union SEIU California both urged all of them to resign.
On the recording, Martinez and de León are heard making fun of the young Black son of a fellow white councilmember. De León compares the youngster to an accessory, and Martinez says he should be “beaten down” and calls him a “little monkey” in Spanish. It seems that the audio was secretly recorded more than a year ago.
Martinez and others discuss exploiting the redistricting process to punish political enemies and strengthen supporters, which highlights the bare exercise of power on the tape. They discuss distributing economic “assets” like an airport and weakening the influence of tenants in one area in order to make it more difficult for the incumbent to gain reelection.
The video quickly spread throughout a hotly contested mayoral race whose victor will need to cooperate with the council as ballots began to arrive in voters’ mailboxes ahead of the November election. The three council members should all step down, according to businessman Rick Caruso. Rep. Karen Bass referred to the comments as “appalling, anti-Black hatred” on Sunday.