On Monday, Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez bowed to increasing pressure and announced her resignation from the council presidency.
A day earlier, audio footage had leaked of her making a series of disparaging remarks about Black people and indigenous Mexicans.
“I sincerely apologize to the people I hurt with my words,” Martinez said in the Monday statement, naming several people she had mentioned in the leaked audio. “As someone who believes deeply in the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize my comments undercut that goal. Going forward, reconciliation will be my priority.”
It was unclear if she also resigned from the city council.
Martinez’s fall from power began just a day earlier when a leaked recording of her speaking to fellow council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera a year prior was posted on the internet. The Los Angeles Times soon picked up and published the audio and the fury spread.
In the recording, Martinez refers to a Black council member’s son as a “monkey,” referred to another council member as being “with the Blacks,” and mocked indigenous Oaxacans who live in Koreatown, calling them “a lot of little short dark people” and “ugly.”
According to the Times, the words “Nury” and “resign” trended on Twitter for a period on Sunday as Angelenos expressed their outrage. The revelation sparked apologies from Martinez and the other lawmakers in the recording, but no pledges to resign.
Councilman Mike Bonin, whose son had been mocked by Martinez, called on her, De Leon, and Herrera to step down.
“The entirety of the recorded conversation … displayed a repeated and vulgar anti-Black sentiment, and a coordinated effort to weaken Black political representation in Los Angeles,” Bonin and his husband said in a statement.
“Any parent reading her comments will know she is unfit for public office,” they said of Martinez. “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.”
Martinez, 48, was the city’s first Latina city council president. She had served since January 2020, leading Los Angeles through the COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the city. She was replaced by Mitch O’Farrell, another city council member who also previously served as Los Angeles’ mayor. He is the first LGBTQ person and first Native American to hold the office.