The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles denounced the group of city leaders caught on a leaked audio recording making racist comments about African Americans, Oaxacans, Jews and Armenians.
“We are appalled by the racist, antisemitic and derisive remarks by members of our Los Angeles City Council,” the L.A. Federation said in a statement on Wednesday. “We hold our elected officials to a higher standard as values-driven leaders who should unite and embrace our city’s rich diversity. As a historically-targeted minority group, Jews understand how hateful speech by leaders can lead to hateful actions. We do not tolerate bigotry; leaders should be held accountable for their actions”
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported three Los Angeles City Council members and one top county labor official expressed racist and derogatory views about colleagues during a private conversation about the city’s redistricting process.
The discussion, which took place Oct. 2021, was between L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera and L.A. City Councilmen Kevin de Leon and Gil Cedillo. It is not known if there were other individuals in the room.
Unbeknownst to the four city leaders, their conversation was being recorded. The audio recording was posted on message board Reddit, causing widespread outrage along with demands for their resignations.
In the recording, Martinez can be overheard calling the young Black son of a white colleague a “parece changuito,” or “like a monkey.” She also mocks Oaxacans, an indigenous group in Mexico. Speaking about Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, Martinez says, “F— that guy.… He’s with the Blacks.”
What got little coverage, however, was that the conversation also included anti-Jewish remarks.
On the recording, Herrera can be heard speaking about former state Assemblymember Richard Katz, who is Jewish. “I’m sure Katz and his crew have an agenda,” Herrera said.
Martinez responded by saying, “Judíos cut their deal with South L.A. They are gonna screw everybody else.” Judíos means Jews in Spanish.
On Wednesday, Martinez resigned from L.A. City Council after having stepped down as city council president and announcing a leave of absence. Herrera resigned on Monday night. As of press time, city leaders and others were calling for de Leon and Cedillo’s resignation.
A spokesperson for U.S. President Biden condemned the remarks. Other elected leaders and organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, also rebuked the city leaders’ hate-filled language.
“The blatantly racist language used by members of the Los Angeles City Council is disgusting and unconscionable,” Rep. Adam Schiff said in a statement. “There is no excuse or justification that can lessen the pain it has caused. And knowing this language was used about a young child makes this situation even more heartbreaking and tragic.”