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Democrat city council member takes leave of absence after stepping down as president, and city labor head resigns following leaked audio revealing racist remarks

Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

After stepping down as L.A. City Council president on Monday, Democrat Nury Martinez, announced today that she is taking a leave of absence. In a separate announcement yesterday, Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera declared his immediate resignation.

Herrera, Martinez, and fellow Democrat council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo came under fire after a leaked audio recording from a 2021 private meeting revealed an exchange of racist remarks.

Following the news of the audio leak, which was originally posted on Reddit, protesters gathered in front of then-President Martinez's home and called for her resignation. After multiple apologies, Martinez caved under mounting pressure from unhappy L.A. residents and announced on Monday that she would immediately be stepping down from her leadership role but would retain her seat as a council member.

On Tuesday morning, Martinez announced that she would also take a leave of absence.

"This has been one of the most difficult times of my life and I recognize this is entirely of my own making," said Martinez. "At this moment, I need to take a leave of absence and take some time to have an honest and heartfelt conversation with my family, my constituents, and community leaders."

After Herrera announced his resignation, the chair of the Federation of Labor executive board, Thom Davis, said the other council members present during the October 2021 meeting should also resign.

"The Executive Board of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor also calls on those elected officials who were present to follow President Herrera's example by immediately resigning as well," said Davis.

In the recorded audio, Martinez called fellow Democrat Councilmember Mike Bonin a "little bitch," and described his adopted black son as a "Parece changuito," or "like a monkey," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Martinez stated that Bonin's child was misbehaved and needed a "beat-down." She can also be heard on the recording referring to the Oaxaca community in L.A. as "ugly" and "short little dark people."

De León chimed in and accused Bonin, who is white, of using his adopted son as an "accessory" and compared him to a designer bag.

The council member released a statement admitting that the discussion was "wholly inappropriate." Despite calls from the Bonin and the community to step down from his position, de León has not made any announcement to do so.

"I regret appearing to condone and even contribute to certain insensitive comments made about a colleague and his family in private," de León said. "On that day, I fell short of the expectations we set for our leaders — and I will hold myself to a higher standard."

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