The head of the Los Angeles Labor Federation quits after a conversation was leaked.
Nury Martinez, the president of the Los Angeles City Council, made fun of Indigenous immigrants and the Black child of a fellow council member in a conversation that was secretly recorded. Ron Herrera was there.
The leader of one of the most powerful labor groups in Los Angeles County resigned on Monday night after an audio recording of a racist and derogatory conversation he had with two members of the Los Angeles City Council and the president of the council was leaked. This caused outrage all over the country.
Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who is in charge of the California Labor Federation, said that the official, Ron Herrera, quit at a meeting of the executive board of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Nury Martinez, the president of the City Council, stepped down Monday morning after making comments about the Black child of a white council member and about Indigenous immigrants in the city’s Koreatown neighborhood. His resignation came a few hours later.
“I take responsibility for what I said, and there are no excuses for those comments,” Ms. Martinez said in a statement on Monday, when she said she would step down as leader but stay on the council. “I know better as a mother, and I’m sorry. “I’m really embarrassed,” she said.
The comments, which Ms. Martinez made last year during a meeting with two other council members and a labor official, brought to light long-standing racial tensions in the government of one of the most diverse cities in the country as well as divisions among the city’s Democrats. Monday, people kept asking her to leave the council for good.
The New York Times got a copy of the recording, which was first reported on Sunday by The Los Angeles Times. In it, Latina Ms. Martinez called the black child of a white council member a “changuito,” which is Spanish for “little monkey.” She also said that people from Oaxaca who lived in Koreatown were “short and dark.”
It wasn’t clear who leaked the recording of Ms. Martinez’s meeting with Gil Cedillo, Kevin de León, and Miguel Herrera on the East Side of the city in October 2021. Also, it wasn’t clear who made the recording. It was posted to Reddit earlier this month by an anonymous user who has since been banned, but the recording kept getting passed around via email even after the post was taken down.
No one has questioned whether or not the recording is real, and Mr. de León, Mr. Cedillo, and Mr. Herrera have all apologized.
Even though people on both sides of upcoming city elections are putting out information to sway voters, it was not clear at first why the recording was released. But an unsigned introduction to the Reddit post, which was shared with the recording via a screenshot, criticized the ties between organized labor and some members of the Council, including Ms. Martinez, saying that “the labor movement is in bed with City Hall.”
During the meeting, the four officials talked about how to change the boundaries of political districts before the election this year. Mr. Herrera can be heard telling the group, “My goal is to get you three elected, and that’s all I’m thinking about. We’re like our own Latino caucus.”
Los Angeles’s redistricting is done every 10 years by a citizen advisory committee that makes suggestions for maps. The final lines are decided by the council, which approved a map that was very different from the one that was suggested. The talk was mostly about those heated negotiations and how stadiums, universities, and airports, which are examples of economic and municipal “assets,” would be shared among the 15 council districts. These assets give jobs to people in the community and can help an officeholder gain political power and raise money.