Updated Oct 13, 2022 - Politics & Policy

L.A. City Council's Nury Martinez resigns after leaked audio of racist remarks

Nury Martinez motion is pictured at City Hall on Aug. 30, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA. Photo: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Nury Martinez resigned from the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday in the fallout of leaked audio in which she and two other councilmembers made racist remarks.

The latest: The council has struggled to perform its duties in the wake of the scandal, as angry protesters disrupted a meeting for a second straight day at City Hall on Wednesday.

  • Acting city council president Mitch O'Farrell emphasized that none of the councilmembers who took part in the taped conversation were present, but the meeting was adjourned after just over an hour with no discussion or official action complete, the New York Times notes.

Driving the news: "It is with a broken heart that I resign my seat for Council District 6, the community I grew up in and my home," Martinez said in a statement.

  • The council's former president said previously she would take a leave of absence after resigning from her leadership position. 
  • California Gov Gavin Newsom (D) said in a statement Martinez's resignation was "the right move," adding "these comments have no place in our state, or in our politics."

The big picture: The announcement comes after days of blowback over the audio — from a conversation last year about redistricting — that was obtained and published by the Los Angeles Times over the weekend.

  • Martinez was called to step down by City Council colleagues, community activists, and even President Biden, along with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, mayoral candidates Karen Bass and Rick Caruso and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).

Meanwhile, Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, who were also heard on the call, have apologized but have not resigned.

Background: The three Latino councilmembers used derogatory language during the secretly-recorded conversation.

  • In the audio, Martinez is heard saying a white councilmember handled his Black son like an "accessory." She also used a Spanish term meaning "little monkey" to describe the child.

Of note: California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) announced earlier Wednesday that his office will launch an investigation into Los Angeles redistricting as a result of the leaked audio.

Zoom out: The nation's second-largest city is in the midst of a mayoral election in which rising crime, growing homelessness and the economy have dominated, per Axios' Russell Contreras.

  • Experts say the racism heard in the recording underscores prevailing anti-Black and anti-Indigenous attitudes among many Latino communities.

What's next: The crisis is unlikely to affect the upcoming mayoral election, but if all the councilmembers refuse to resign and the protests continue, tensions could increase. A new mayor will have to tackle those issues — and heal a new fallout.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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