The California Department of Justice will investigate Los Angeles’ redistricting process after city council members and a former labor leader were involved in a racist conversation during a meeting discussing the issue last year.
“The leaked audio has cast doubt on a cornerstone of our political processes. We will endeavor to bring the truth to light to help restore confidence in the process for the people of our state,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement Wednesday. “As a father and a human being, I am deeply appalled by the remarks made by some of Los Angeles’ highest-ranking officials. Their comments were unacceptable, offensive and deeply painful. There is no place for anti-Black, antisemitic, anti-indigenous and anti-LGBTQ, or any kind of discriminatory rhetoric in our state, especially in relation to the duties of a public official.”
The investigation is the latest in the fallout from the conversation between Council Members Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, as well as union leader Ron Herrera that was leaked over the weekend.
In the recording from last October, Martinez is heard making disparaging comments about fellow Council Member Mike Bonin’s adopted Black son, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, Oaxacans in Koreatown and other communities.
In an emotional speech during a rowdy City Council meeting Tuesday, Bonin said the comments about his son made his “soul bleed” and his “temper burn.”
In a tweet on Wednesday, Bonin again called for the three council members to step down.
“Governance of this beautiful city is untenable as long as you are on the council,” Bonin said. “Healing is impossible as long as you remain in office. Resign. Now.”
Another council meeting set for Wednesday had to be shut down as protestors flooded the chambers and shouted down members. The City Council will meet again on Friday.
The redistricting conversation last year focused on how city council district boundaries should be redrawn and how the group could maintain Latino political power, as well as help the Latino community, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“The decennial redistricting process is foundational for our democracy and for the ability of our communities to make their voices heard — and it must be above reproach,” the statement from Bonta continued. “My office will investigate to gather the facts, work to determine the truth, and take action, as necessary, to ensure the fair application of our laws.”
Herrera has also stepped down from his position as president of the L.A. County Federation, while calls for the sitting council members to resign continue.