The Los Angeles City Council met Tuesday as calls grew louder for three members to resign following leaked audio from a meeting last year that revealed racist and offensive remarks.
The meeting was the first since the scandal involving councilmembers making racist comments broke over the weekend.
It was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. but was delayed by protesters both inside and outside the meeting sounding off criticism over the remarks heard in the leaked audio. Video showed a crowd blocking the street outside City Hall as the meeting was supposed to be getting underway.
Councilman Mike Bonin, whose adopted Black son was one of the targets of the racist comments, spoke during the meeting.
Through tears Bonin talked about the racism his son faces every day.
“I’m a dad who loves his son in ways that words cannot capture. I take a lot of hits, and I know I practically invite a bunch of them. But my son? Man, that makes my soul bleed, and it makes my temper burn, and I know I am not alone because Los Angeles has spoken and it feels the same way,” Bonin said, getting emotional. “As the white father of a Black child, you stumble, and you f*** up and you try to do your best to be a parent and an ally and I get it wrong a lot, I get it right sometimes. I knew that I did not want this story about virulent anti-Black racism to be centered on an angry white dad … These words, they cut and they stun. I know that I can never really know or comprehend or feel the weight of the daily relentless anti-Black racism that my son is going to face, but, man I know the fire that you feel when someone tries to destroy Black boy joy.”
Speaking directly to the council members, Bonin added: “First you must resign, and then ask for forgiveness.”
The racist remarks were made when Councilwoman Nury Martinez was on an Oct. 2021 meeting about redistricting with fellow members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, and union leader Ron Herrera.
“And then there’s this white guy, with his little Black kid, who’s misbehaved,” Martinez can be heard saying before she says the child looks “like a little monkey” in Spanish. “They’re raising him like a little white kid, which, I was like, this kid needs a beatdown.”
Martinez can also be heard making racist comments about L.A. District Attorney George Gascón because he is “with the Blacks,” and about Oaxacans in Koreatown, which Martinez referred to as “short, dark people.”
Martinez resigned as council president on Monday and took a leave of absence Tuesday but her decision to keep her council seat has drawn further criticism, including calls for her, Cedillo and de León to step down.
On Tuesday, Councilmembers Bonin, Paul Krekorian, Mitch O’Farrell, Curren Price and Nithya Raman introduced a motion to censure the sitting members and demand their resignation.
“Their actions and inactions were completely contrary to the standard of conduct that the public is entitled to demand of its elected public servants,” the motion reads. “They demonstrated contempt and disrespect toward communities and individuals they were elected to serve, and they have damaged the public’s faith in how this city is governed.”
“Resign from the council, all of it. We should not have anyone serving that is not about the whole community,” Assemblywoman Tina McKinnor, who represents Inglewood, said at a press conference Monday.
Speaking at a different press conference, O’Farrell spoke out with a similar sentiment.
“It is unconscionable and it is not something I think we can get through unless the individuals involved resign from office,” he said.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and Councilman Curren Price Jr., have also called for resignations.
Price said the resignations of those involved was a way to start the healing process.
The union leader who was on the call, Ron Herrera from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, has resigned from his position as the union’s president.