A leaked audio recording of the crude, racist comments that led to the resignation of the Los Angeles City Council president also provides a stark glimpse into City Hall’s racial rivalry and sometimes hidden battle for and hold political power in a changing city.
Former Councilmember Nury Martinez, a Democrat, resigned and apologized on Monday, saying she was embarrassed by her racially offensive language in an audio recording last year.
Martinez, however, did not resign his council seat. She announced Tuesday that “I need to take a leave of absence and take some time to have an honest and sincere conversation with my family, constituents, and community leaders.”
Her recorded remarks, including mocking a white congressman’s Black son, were made in closed discussion with other Latino Council members and a Latino labor leader. Latin about defending their political power during the redrawing of council area boundaries, known as redistricting. The decade-long process could pit one group against another for political advantage in future elections.
The white councilor, Mike Bonin, issued a statement with her husband calling for the resignation of Martinez and others involved in the discussion, describing it as “a concerted effort to undermine black political representation in Los Angeles.”
The California Legislative Assembly of Black said the recording “reveals a horrifying attempt to decentralize Black voices during a critical redistricting process.”
Blacks and Latinos often forge political alliances, but tensions and rivalries between groups separated by race, geography, partisanship, or religion have a long history in Los Angeles and across the globe. In fact, the whole country. Conflict can spill over into housing, education and jobs – even prisons – as well as the spoils of political power.
“Basically, those two communities are chasing the same crumbs,” said Michael Trujillo, a veteran Democratic consultant based in Los Angeles.
Martinez did not show up at the start of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, where dozens of protesters chanted in English and Spanish for her and others involved to step down. Protesters in the standing room pointed to the crowd in the ornate Council room that included about a dozen predominantly Latino members of the Californians Coalition for Community Rights, the organization that describes itself as a racial and social justice groups.
“Hey hey, ho ho, Nury Martinez has to go!” the protesters roared. “What do we want? Justice! when do we want it? Now!”
One woman held up a sign that said, “Nury’s time to resign.” Another protester waved a sign that read “Put your trash in the trash”.
On the profanity recording, the group discussed the city’s redrawing of district boundaries on the Council, as well as the need to re-elect Latino members and protect economic interests in Latino counties. , Los Angeles Times, where the recording was obtained, reported.
“If you’re going to talk about Latino counties, what kind of county are you trying to create?” Martinez asked at one point. “Will you just create poor Latino counties for nothing?”
In the recording, Los Angeles County Labor Federation president Ron Herrera expresses the need for caution in handling a county held by a black congressman who has been indicted on federal corruption charges. . He warned that the Black community could view it as “a hostile takeover.”
“Because politically, they’re going to come after us,” Herrera says in the recording.
Herrera resigned on Monday night. Thom Davis, chairman of the federation’s executive board, said Tuesday in a statement urging elected officials involved in the conversation to do the same.
The recording comes at a time when rude political speeches have become widespread across the country, often tied to baseless accusations or conspiracy theories, but in this case involving members of the same party.
Jaime Regalado, former executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles, said the recording reveals the nature of political power struggles that often take place out of sight. of the public.
“What we are hearing in the tape is that everyone else, especially the African American community, is traumatized,” he said.
“A lot of it goes back to when Latinos started organizing and holding political power in the first place. That means breaking down the door that leads to City Hall,” Regalado said.
Black politicians “are trying to protect what they have. At the same time, you can understand Latinos’ desire for equality” on the Council, given the growing Latino population, he said.
In 2005, when Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa became the first Latino mayor in more than a century, he had to overcome fear in the black community that if he was elected, blacks would be disqualified. out of government jobs and were replaced by people of Latino descent. As a candidate, Villaraigosa spoke of crossing the “black-brown divide” that can cause violence.
Black leaders worry about the possibility of losing seats in the history of Blacks in Southern California, amid changing demographics.
In LA, the Latino population has been growing for decades and now makes up about half of the population. The Black population is about 9%. Latinos have long said their representation on the Council is lower than their share of the population, while Blacks maintain a superior representation, despite making up a relatively small percentage of the population. city. The heavily Democratic city has spawned a prominent stream of Black politicians, including former Mayor Tom Bradley and US Democratic Representative Maxine Waters.
Fernando Guerra of the Center for Los Angeles Studies at Loyola Marymount University called the racist language “appalling,” but added that the recording underscores the realities of politics. Once power has been gained, “You won’t give it to someone else.”
“There is a political axiom that power must not be relinquished, it is taken away,” he said. Despite the inconsistency “there is no instance of Latinos taking up an important Black position in LA,” such as Congress or the Legislature.
The dispute became a race for mayor of the city.
US Representative Karen Bass, who is running for mayor against Democrat Rick Caruso and could become the first Black woman to hold office, said Latino Council members are ” causing division between the Black and Latino communities of our city.” She also called for those involved to resign.
Caruso has promised to tackle the dysfunction at City Hall, and the release of the recording could affect his overall message. He also called for those involved to resign.
He called it “a heartbreaking day”.