During a press conference on Tuesday, President Joe Biden called for the resignation of Los Angeles City Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de Leon, and Gil Cedillo as the LA racist recording scandal continues to grow.
The audio recording, which had then-City Council President Nury Martinez, City Councilmen Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron 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.” Released on Sunday, the news of the recording spread fast and went from local to national news within hours.
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 Tuesday, continued pressure brought about more changes. Herrera became the first to resign from his position, leaving one of the top labor leader positions in Southern California. However, none of the other three resigned as of Tuesday afternoon, with only Martinez once again doing something. This time, she announced a leave of absence, further distancing herself from the scandal and doing everything she can to possibly save her position.
“This has been one of the most difficult times of my life and I recognize this is entirely of my own making,” said Martinez in a statement on Tuesday. “At this moment, 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. I am so sorry to the residents of Council District 6, my colleagues, and the City of Los Angeles.”
With only Herrera resigning and the other three not doing anything else, calls for their resignation grew to include more and more prominent people on Tuesday. While on Monday those wanting the three to resign included nearly every lawmaker on the political spectrum in Los Angeles excluding a few notable leaders such as Mayor Eric Garcetti, Tuesday brought in Governor Gavin Newsom, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), and due to pressure from city Democrats, Mayor Garcetti himself.
More lawmakers call for the resignation of Martinez, de Leon, Cedillo
“Bigotry, violence, and division too often live in unseen and unheard places, but have severe consequences on the lives of our fellow Angelenos when they are not confronted and left to infect our public and private lives,” Mayor Garcetti said in a press statement on Tuesday. “Stepping down from the council would be the right response by these members in a moment that demands accountability and healing at a time of great pain and deep disappointment.”
“I’ll spend my remaining days at City Hall moving kindness, transparency and respect forward as core values of our city. This is the time to not only stand up to the things we are against, but to do the hard work of bringing about the things we are for * a city of belonging and accountability.”
However, the largest name demanding their resignation joined in Tuesday afternoon – President Joe Biden. In a rare move to call for the resignation of officials at the local level, Biden, through White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, firmly put the highest office in the nation against the three Councilmembers.
“The president is glad to see that one of the participants in that conversation has resigned, but he believes they all should resign,” noted Jean-Pierre in a press briefing. “The language that was used and tolerated during that conversation was unacceptable and is appalling. He believes they should all step down.”
The new high profile lawmakers asking for their resignation has led many to believe that the resignation is no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.”
“Biden, Garcetti, Newsom, in addition to everyone else, just ensured those three will not see out the rest of their terms,” explained Maria Costa, a Los Angeles pollster who focuses on Latino communities, in a Globe interview on Tuesday. “Up until Tuesday morning, they had the reasoning that they were some of the only Latino representatives of the Council in the city to help keep them in place, even after those horrible comments they made. But with Herrera setting the bar for resignation and your own Mayor, Governor, and let’s be real here, the most important one, the President of the country demanding that you resign, you really have no choice left.”
“It doesn’t matter their race. It never does. They showed clear racism and prejudice and it affecting their jobs to serve the city. A city that, guess what, has a lot of white and black residents in it. And just like all the rival politicians and groups coming together yesterday in favor of the resignation, we’re seeing the same today with even the staunchest Republicans siding with Biden and Newsom and Garcetti on this. At this point they don’t have too much time left. This issue is not being cycled out of the news right now, which is what they were likely hoping for.”
The resignation issue is to come up again tonight in the next LA Mayoral debate between Karen Bass and Rick Caruso.
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