Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera resigned early on Tuesday following his involvement in the growing racist leaked recording scandal that has rocked Los Angeles since the beginning of the week.
The audio recording, which had then-City Council President Nury Martinez, City Councilmen Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, and Herrera all talking about redistricting, who should replace a city Council member, and other topics. However, strong racial comments, especially by Martinez and de Leon, kept arising during the audio, including Martinez calling the young black child of fellow Councilman Mike Bonin a “monkey.” Herrera, while part of the group, had the least explosive role, never commenting directly on anyone and many times kept trying to get the others back on track to the meeting at hand. But, as Herrera did not speak out against the comments, did not admonish the others for saying that, and seemed to have just played along with everyone else, he was included with the other three due to his complicacy.
On Sunday evening, Herrera became the last of the four to give out an official statement saying, “The calls for accountability are loud clear and deserved. I recognize that the community and our affiliates deserved an apology earlier and I am sorry this has not been the case. I had to face my family and granddaughters personally and apologize to them for my failure to stand up to racist and anti-Black remarks in that immediate moment. I failed them in the moment and for that I hold the deepest regret.”
“And now, I apologize to all of you, Mike Bonin and his family, the affiliates and community members, specifically those in the Black and Oaxacan community. There is no justification and no excuse for the vile remarks made in that room. Period. And I didn’t step up to stop them and I will have to bear the burden of that cross moving forward. I will do better and I hope that all of you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.”
The scandal continued to grow on Monday with more people calling for the four to resign, despite statements of apology coming from everyone involved. Martinez resigned as President of the Council, and more lawmakers and leaders from across the political spectrum in LA called for their resignation.
By Monday, the story had even become a national story, with Governor Gavin Newsom even giving a rare admonishment of local fellow Democrat lawmakers on Tuesday morning.
“These comments have no place in our state, or in our politics, and we must all model better behavior to live the values that so many of us fight every day to protect,” Newsom said in a statement.
While some outlets began hinting of Herrera being the first of the four to fully resign Monday night, the announcement of Herrera leaving became official early Tuesday. In an announcement with no statement, Herrera resigned as President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. While Herrera gave no statement, the union’s Executive Board Chairman, Thom Davis did, focusing more on the racist remarks rather than Herrera.
“Racism in any form has no place in the House of Labor,” explained Davis in a statement. “It is unconscionable that those elected to fight for our communities of color would engage in repulsive and vile anti-Black, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Asian and anti-Oaxacan remarks that pit our working communities against each other. These sentiments will not be tolerated by our organization or those who we represent.”
Commenters noted that Herrera’s resignation was not a surprise but was also seen as a little odd as he himself had been the least vocal of the four in the audio and that those who said more charged things are still in office as off Tuesday afternoon.
“Herrera was the least guilty amongst the four,” noted Maria Costa, a Los Angeles pollster who focuses on Latino communities, to the Globe on Tuesday. “Still guilty, especially since he did not speak out or show any disgust at the remarks being made, but was not saying anything and tried to continue on with the meeting. He himself said that he failed to stand up against the remarks.”
“Honestly, it seems like he was more caught up in this rather than being an active player, but he was complicit, and that ultimately was what led to his resignation. If he did speak up during the audio at all or admonish them, he’d be seen today in a far more positive light and probably would have kept his job. But he didn’t do the right thing and allowed those comments to go on. And because of this, labor got dinged in LA too, which was also probably part of the reason he resigned.”
“That old adage of lying down with the dogs and getting up with fleas proved itself again today.”
As of Tuesday, none of the other three have resigned from their positions, with Cedillo stating that he would be out of office soon anyway due to not running again this year for the City Council.
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