Nury Martinez scandal raises tensions between blacks and Latinos in LA


Officials in Los Angeles are scrambling to contain the fallout from the leaked audio of the racist remarks that forced the resignation of former City Council Speaker Nuri Martinez.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, the city council held a virtual meeting to move forward from the Martinez scandal after an in-person meeting at city hall was disrupted by angry protesters. At the conference, a topic that almost all callers wanted to discuss in the public comment portion of both conferences was the leaked audio involving Hispanic Martinez. Martinez made vulgar and racist comments against Oaxacan blacks and Americans at a closed-door conference in October 2021.

Much of the anger was directed at city councilors Gil Sedillo and Kevin de Leon, who did not attend either meeting, for their involvement in the Martinez scandal, and several callers demanded their resignation. So far, the two men have refused to resign. Both had chaired a prominent committee dealing with housing and homelessness before being stripped of their duties this week.

Hundreds of people from Los Angeles' Oaxacan community protest at City Hall alongside prominent leaders from California's Indigenous communities.

Hundreds of people from Los Angeles’ Oaxacan community and prominent leaders of indigenous communities across California protest at City Hall on October 15. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

At Wednesday’s meeting, representatives of the Los Angeles County Business Federation, a coalition of 220 organizations representing more than 410,000 employers in the city, delivered a tough message to Zedillo and De Leon.

“Your residents and our own colleagues have spoken,” she said. The time has come for you to step down so that you can complete the work on the many important issues you have been working on.You have proven yourself. I will call you.”

Christian Greene, a professor of sociology and African-American history at California State University Dominguez Hills, said at a meeting Tuesday that Zedillo and De Leon were elected to the seat last week, saying it was “utterly disgraceful and disheartening.” He added that it was daunting to watch maintain the in council.

“We deserve more than an apology,” Green said. “We keep talking about the word healing. But you can’t heal without facing the truth. was offensive, uninviting, and offensive.”

Khansa Jones-Muhammad, the Black Commissioner of LA’s Compensation Task Force, called in a public capacity on Tuesday to condemn “systemic racism” that still exists. Discrimination will never be tolerated by Black Angelenos,” she said.

Protesters at the Los Angeles City Council meeting in the Los Angeles City Hall Congressional Chamber on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Protesters at the Los Angeles City Council meeting in the Los Angeles City Hall Congressional Chamber on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Dozens of angry callers—many using swearing and insults—flooded the conference, demonstrating a perception that the fragile relationship between the Black and Latinx communities was particularly precarious. One caller used clown music to mock the conference room, while another suggested abolishing the entire council.

Some callers have raised past complaints related to systemic racism, while others have claimed complicity in the actions of Hispanic colleagues captured on tape. did.

Callers strongly criticized Acting President Mitch O’Farrell for not allowing the hearings to proceed directly, with one describing him as a “coward.” O’Farrell said at the Oct. 11 meeting that Alderman Mike Bonin, who delivered an emotional speech addressing racist comments Martinez made about his young son, said he was stricken with COVID-19 hours after the meeting. Justified moving the hearings online after testing positive. Bonin was in close physical contact with several other councilors.

However, not all callers were against de Leon and Cediro remaining on the council. The woman, who will not reveal her identity, asked De Leon not to step down.”[de León] “He’s done a great job and his real voters in his district look up to him,” she said. [and his critics] pretending to kill someone “

I didn't get the 10 votes I needed for a hearing at City Hall on Tuesday, August 30, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

I didn’t get the 10 votes I needed for a hearing at City Hall on Tuesday, August 30, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The virtual forum didn’t stop dozens of protesters from speaking out outside City Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“No resignation, no meeting!” Protesters chanted, and some tried to break into City Hall. Officers in riot gear were able to push them back without incident.

Zedillo and De Leon shared a room with union leader Ron Herrera, who also resigned in 2021, when Martinez called white lawmaker Mike Bonin’s 7-year-old son (who is black) a “Palace Changuito.” I was in Or “that little monkey.”

“They’re raising him like a little white kid,” Martinez can be heard vocally saying. “I thought this kid needed a beatdown.” “Let’s take him to the corner. Then bring him back.” She also called Bonin “Little Bee.”

At Tuesday’s conference, a female caller who did not identify herself vented her frustration at the remarks. We’ve dealt with species specific racism, and we’ve dealt with it for a long time.”

The council was thrown into chaos after it recorded three powerful politicians discussing ways to maintain their grip on power and expand Latino influence in the city with Labor leaders. , and with Martinez’s resignation, the council could change shape dramatically. Zedillo, who missed his third term last June, will resign in December. De Leon is not running for re-election this year.

District 1 Rep. - Gil Cedillo (left) and District 14 Rep. - Kevin de León (right) at the Los Angeles City Council meeting at the Los Angeles City Hall in Los Angeles, California, Tuesday, October 11, 2022.  (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

District 1 Rep. – Gil Cedillo (left) and District 14 Rep. – Kevin de León (right) at the Los Angeles City Council meeting at the Los Angeles City Hall in Los Angeles, California, Tuesday, October 11, 2022. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A group of protesters affiliated with Black Lives Matter have been camping near De Leon’s home in Eagle Rock since Sunday morning, pressuring a beleaguered city council member to resign. They also want a review of redistricting decisions and other policies that council members have worked to affect the black community.

“What emerged from the recordings we heard last week was clear evidence that our city’s rezoning process was manipulated for personal political gain,” said the independent Rezoning Commission. LA Council member Nitya Raman, who has successfully pushed for amendments to the city’s charter, said Tuesday. .

After being unanimously elected president-elect, city councilor Paul Krekorian has the unenviable task of restoring faith in the city council. On Tuesday, he described the moment as “one of the most difficult times” the city has ever faced, and said it was time for the Angelinos to heal the gap and start building bridges.

“We need to reiterate that we cannot allow two members who are disgraced in public office to hold the business of the city hostage,” Mr Krekorian said. The chairman’s powers are reduced and never increased.

“It’s an honor to serve at City Hall,” said Krekorian. “It is a privilege to serve any kind of public service, and we have that privilege. Los Angeles can no longer afford that kind of thinking. We must recognize that you are serving all the people of Los Angeles. I have to.