The White House joined hundreds calling for the resignation of three LA City Council members after leaked audio revealed racist comments.
The White House joined the chorus of calls Tuesday for Los Angeles City Council members Nury Martinez, Kevin de León, and Gil Cedillo to step down after a recording emerged of the trio making racist comments at Councilman Mike Bonin’s 2-year-old Black adopted son, and at other ethnic groups.
President Joe Biden’s call for consequences comes as nearly half of the Los Angeles City Council called Tuesday for the three council members to be censured. The meeting was held as a raucous crowd swarmed Los Angeles City Hall, calling for all three to step down. In less than 48 hours since the conversation was made public, it has shaken city politics in Los Angeles to its core. The use of racial slurs by city leaders resurfaced longstanding racial tension in Los Angeles and threatens to topple some of the city’s most prominent Latino leaders.
Martinez announced a leave of absence on Tuesday, but the president believes that should be just the start.
“The president is glad to see that one of the participants in that conversation has resigned, but they all should,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Jean-Pierre painted it as a matter of principle that city leaders must be held accountable for hate speech.
“Here’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans: When a Democrat says something racist or antisemitic … we hold Democrats accountable,” she added. “When a MAGA Republican says something racist and/or antisemitic, they are embraced by cheering crowds and become celebrated and sought after.”
Martinez announced a leave of absence Tuesday, but has defied calls to resign, as have de León and Cedillo. Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, the fourth official who took part in the conversation, resigned Monday.
According to the city charter, council members can be censured with a two-thirds vote if they conduct actions that “constitute a gross failure to meet such high standards, even if the action does not constitute a ground for removal from office under the Charter.”
Council members Bonin, Paul Krekorian, Mitch O’Farrell, Curren Price, Nithya Raman, and Paul Koretz signed onto one motion, while Councilman Bob Blumenfield introduced a separate motion also calling for the three members to be censured.
With full attendance, the council would need 10 members to vote to censure Martinez, de León, and Cedillo.
“I really, really do not want to be here today,” Bonin said. “I want to be home with my family right now. … I am still trying to wrap my head around everything that was said and everything that’s happening. My husband and I are both raw and angry and heartbroken and sick – for our family and for Los Angeles.
“Public officials are supposed to call us to our highest selves, and these people stabbed us and shot us and cut the spirit of Los Angeles. It gave a beat down to the heart and the soul of this city. Before anything else in the world I’m a dad, I am a dad who loves his son in ways that words cannot capture.”
Assemblymember Isaac Brian expressed the pain that so many are feeling since the recording went public on Sunday.
“The reason this meeting is so hard to conduct is because we heard an hour of some of the most hateful things we’ve ever heard from three people in some of the most powerful positions in Los Angeles,” he said. “People are hurting, and I am a Black adopted child, Mike, so I feel for your son. In this moment I’m so glad he gets to see you fighting and I’m here to fight with him. … Brown political power can’t be rooted in Black erasure and anti-Indigenous speech, and homophobic speech. We deserve better. The people have called for these resignations. Elected officials have called for these resignations. We need these resignations before we can move forward, but trust me, there will be a healing.”