On Tuesday, a crowd of protesters gathered at the Los Angeles City Council chamber to call for the resignation of three members involved in a racist conversation used to describe colleagues as they plotted to protect Latino political strength in Council districts.
The start of the meeting was delayed due to the shouting by protesters who called for Councilmen Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo to leave the room.
“Resign now,” the protesters shouted, sometimes adding profanity to the chants, according to PBS. “This meeting cannot start. This house is out of order.”
At one point, a woman emotionally upset came forward and said what many wanted to say, “First of all – f*** you. F*** De Leon. F*** Nury and f*** Cedillo. F*** this whole meeting right here because it’s illegitimate because the people are shutting this s*** down afterwards. This whole thing is racist. The fact that they have the audacity to sit here in front of the people that they mocked, that they minimized, that they demonized, that they marginalized is unacceptable. The fact that you are trying to continue with business as usual is unacceptable! Unacceptable! Unacceptable! We are the people, and we are the voices that matter in this room right now. Not yours. I yield the rest of my time but f*** this!”
De Leon sat with his eyes cast downward as protesters called on him by name to leave. Other Council members asked the crowd to be quiet and allow the meeting to continue, and if necessary, threatened to empty the chamber.
“We don’t want to put you out,” Council member Mitch O’Farrell said shortly before the crowd quieted.
Former Council president and Democrat Nury Martinez stepped down from the position and apologized Monday, admitting she was ashamed of her racially offensive language in the leaked year-old recording. She also made a statement Tuesday saying, “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.”
Activists gathered outside City Hall Tuesday morning, hours ahead of the council’s meeting, which was the first held since the weekend leak of the recorded conversation from October 2021 that featured Council president Nury Martinez in particular, making a series of racially insensitive remarks with de Leon and Cedillo, who are council members, as well as Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
Herrera resigned Monday night. Thom Davis, chairman of the federation’s executive board, said in a statement the following day: “Racism in any form has no place in the House of Labor.”
Martinez immediately came under fire after the recording was leaked on Sunday. She was heard making racist remarks aimed at fellow council member Mike Bonin’s 2-year-old son, who is Black, and at other ethnic groups, while the group discussed the politically sensitive process of redrawing council district boundaries, My News LA reported.
The recorded conversation was leaked, appearing on Reddit but has since been removed from the site. It remains unclear who is responsible for the recording and its leak. The meeting is said to have occurred at a Federation of Labor office, and the federation is investigating its source.