Oct 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

L.A. City Council censures members who made racist comments in recording

Councilmember Kevin de León at a meeting in Los Angeles in October 2022.

Kevin de León in Los Angeles in October 2022. Photo: Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to censure two sitting council members and former member Nury Martinez for making racist comments in leaked audio.

Why it matters: Council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo have not stepped down despite calls to do so from the city council president, advocacy groups, community members, and the White House.

  • The censure vote is a purely symbolic denunciation of the current and former members, but it could ratchet up pressure on De León and Cedillo to resign.
  • Protesters at Wednesday's meeting demanded De León and Cedillo's resignation before being escorted out of the chamber prior to the vote. Demonstrators have previously argued that the body should not hold meetings until they resign.
  • Neither member was present for the vote, per the Los Angeles Times.

Context: Martinez, the body's previous president, resigned from the council two weeks ago after leaked audio obtained by the Los Angeles Times revealed her making racist remarks about another member's son.

  • The audio also captured the three Latino Democrats using derogatory language in a conversation about redistricting.
  • Last week, the council elected member Paul Krekorian to replace Martinez as president.

What they're saying: "I want to reiterate that it's important that this council continue to do its work, and this council is not going to be deterred from doing that work by protests or by distractions," Krekorian said Wednesday before the censure vote.

  • "One way or the another, this council is going to proceed with the work that we need to do," he added.

The big picture: Mitch O’Farrell, who served as acting president after Martinez's resignation, previously removed De León and Cedillo from their committee chairmanships and assignments.

Go deeper: L.A. police investigating legality of city council recording

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