After weeks of continued public protests and calls to resign coming from the large majority of LA citizens and lawmakers nationwide, Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon remained defiant, saying on Sunday that the only way he is leaving office early is if he is recalled.
De Leon, along with then-City President Nury Martinez, Councilman Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, were found to have made multiple racist and racial comments earlier this month following an audio leak of the four talking during a district realigning meeting last year. While many things were said, the most controversial part was when they began discussing a fellow Councilman who is white and openly gay, Mike Bonin. Specifically they talked about his black child and a picture with Bonin and his family in a Martin Luther King Jr. parade.
“Bonin thinks he’s f—ing black,” said Martinez in the audio, pointing out the picture. “He handled his young Black son as though he were an accessory. They’re raising him like a little White kid. I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”
Martinez then proceeded to use slurs against the eight-year-old child, saying in Spanish “Parece changuito” or in English, “He’s like a monkey.” Councilman de Leon then added, “Bonin handles the toddler like when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag. Su negrito, like on the side.”
In addition to the racist words, the four were also heard plotting to reorganize Council lines to decrease the power of black Councilmembers and others in the city.
In the ensuing weeks, all four made multiple apologies, both Martinez and Herrera resigned, and calls for both de Leon and Cedillo to resign have come from the majority of Angelinos, as well as Mayor Eric Garcetti, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Governor Gavin Newsom, and President Joe Biden. Protests have also been constant against both de Leon and Cedillo, with protestors even appearing outside de Leon’s house non-stop for the past several weeks.
While Cedillo is a lame duck this year and will be out of office soon anyway due to being term-limited, de Leon’s term puts him in office until 2024, causing him the most pressure. However, de Leon has remained stubborn, saying last week that he would not resign, citing a duty to constituents.
“I have to do the hard work,” said de Leon in a CBS interview last week. “I have to repair. I have to help heal. I have to help restore.”
De Leon continues to refuse resignation
Following public backlash against that statement and failing to reduce pressure on himself to resign, de Leon made time for another interview on Sunday, adding that it would take a recall to remove him from office.
“My duty is to represent my constituents,” added the Councilman. “They are the ones who elected me. If they are the ones who say that I need to leave, then I will respect that decision by them.” Councilman de Leon also then noted that the lack of Latino representation on the Council would only worsen if he resigns.”
Councilman Bonin responded to de Leon’s words by saying that his refusal to resign is only “deepening the wound.”
Newly elected Council President Paul Krekorian added on Monday that his statement was the “height of arrogance” and, “He may think that that’s not fair to him, but that’s not relevant right now. The important thing is beginning the healing process that Los Angeles needs and to allow the city council to do its work, and that requires his resignation from office.”
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