AnalysisPSL Statements

LA City Councilmembers and President of LA County Federation of Labor caught in racist rant — Resign now!

A leaked audio recording made headlines across Los Angeles yesterday as it revealed the real anti-Black, violent and anti-people sentiments of several high-profile Los Angeles political figures.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Nury Martinez launched into a violently anti-Black tirade in audio recordings leaked on Reddit, alongside three bigoted accomplices: City Councilmembers Kevin de Léon and Gil Cedillo and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. 

Clockwise from top left: Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, Kevin de Leon, Ron Herrera. Liberation graphic

Martinez reserved her harshest words for the liberal Councilmember Mike Bonin and his 8-year-old son. She called Bonin, a gay white man, a “little b—ch” and “the fourth Black member” of the City Council. Bonin faced a right-wing recall movement similar to that of District Attorney Gascón, and speaking to that relationship Martinez said of Gascón: “Fuck that guy … he’s with the Blacks.”

Martinez called Bonin’s adopted Black son a “changuito” (monkey) and went down a twisted line of abusive commentary: “They’re raising him like a little white kid … I was like, this kid needs a beatdown. Like, let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.” She asks men around her if they understand, then laughs at her own sick joke. “So anyways, getting back to redistricting,” former Council President Martinez declared at the end of the audio clip.

Martinez made disgusting jokes at the expense of Mexican immigrants by calling Oaxacan people “little short dark people,” adding that she didn’t know what village they came from. This comment reeks of anti-Indigenous chauvinism, referring to the large populations of Indigenous and African people in the Mexican state of Oaxáca. Labor leader Ron Herrera jumped in to encourage the creation of districts that benefit those same politicians making these racist remarks.

This cold and negligent comment demonstrates the clear connection across this country between racism, redistricting and gerrymandering. In a fit of anti-democratic arrogance, they made light of chopping up the district of fellow City Councilmember Nithya Raman. 

Los Angeles is often confused with a beacon of progressivism and liberalism, but its roots are in the politics of colonialism, Indigenous genocide, exploitation, slavery and Jim Crow racism. The 1785 Toypurina Rebellion led by an Indigenous Kizh woman, the 1943 Zoot Suit Race Riots, the 1965 Watts Rebellion, the 1992 Los Angeles Rebellion, and the 2006 May Day march in support of immigrants are but a few of LA’s most explosive mass rebellions against this terror.

The infamous modern-day LA Police Department was built by arch-racist William Parker, who purposefully recruited southern ex-Marines because of their ability to enforce the racist hierarchy that they learned in the South and overseas. They pioneered the SWAT team and used their military might for the most despicable tasks: Killing and imprisoning the Black Panther Party members and other radicals, raiding the Panther’s 41st and Central office in 1969, and suppressing all people’s uprisings.

Police in Los Angeles are still an expensive parasite sucking resources from the working people of this city to fund over-policing and terror. The 2022-23 Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department budget calls for $3.61 billion. The Los Angeles Police Department’s most recent budget calls for $3.2 billion. With the City Council’s leadership, endless police funding feeds the bloated California prison system, kills the same Black and Brown people being mocked, and constantly harasses the nearly 70,000 homeless people in LA County.

In the summer of 2020, Mayor Garcetti and other LA authorities brought in the National Guard to back up the vicious LAPD and LASD in suppressing and intimidating the George Floyd rebellion in the city. Militant, multinational protests continued in the city long beyond this betrayal of the working class. Just like in other cities and towns across the country, no amount of terror could stop this earth-shaking wave of rebellion.

Racism and bigotry have no place in a government nor the union movement. These officials were caught red-handed engaging in the kind of hateful rhetoric that normally stays behind closed doors. In fact, this heartless mentality dominates U.S. government buildings from Los Angeles to Jackson to Washington, D.C. 

Callous statements like these are indictments of a system that allows the types of inhumane conditions of hunger, homelessness, police terror, mass incarceration, and needless death in cities across the country. It is blatantly obvious that the LA City Council is too busy criminalizing homeless people, smashing the COVID-19 eviction moratorium and the rent freeze, and funding endless police terror to create real solutions to the problems of Angelenos.

Bigots like Nury Martinez, Kevin de Léon, Gil Cedillo and Ron Herrera have no right to represent the broad masses of working-class Angelenos who oppose racism and oppression. Herrera’s role at the LA County Federation of Labor requires him to represent thousands of Black workers, a crucial role for which he is clearly unfit.

Nury stepped down as council president on Oct. 10, but shamefully remained on the council. This is not enough — the Party for Socialism and Liberation – Los Angeles demands she step down fully and immediately. After exposing themselves as self-serving, narcissistic and anti-democratic, they should immediately leave the political scene and stop pretending to serve working-class people. Their pathetic apologies included justifications like “frustration and anger,” “regrets” and “[falling] short of expectations.”

This conversation was no mistake. It was part of a long trend of negligence and dishonesty to the people of Los Angeles. These “leaders” have betrayed the working class time and time again — Resign Now!

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