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Los Angeles City Council president steps down from leadership role after leak of racist comments

Nury Martinez apologized in a statement before she announced her resignation.

The president of the Los Angeles City Council stepped down from her leadership role Monday after an audio recording of racist remarks surfaced.

Nury Martinez apologized in a statement as she announced her resignation.

“I take responsibility for what I said and there are no excuses for those comments. I’m so sorry,” she said.

In comments during a meeting last year, Martinez likened a colleague’s Black son, who was 2 years old at the time, to an animal and seemed to imply that the county’s progressive district attorney shouldn’t be supported because he might be popular with Black Angelenos.

The 2021 audio from a political strategy meeting attended by a handful of Latino Democrats on the council was first reported Sunday by the Los Angeles Times.

Martinez said in the statement: “As someone who believes deeply in the empowerment of communities of color, I recognize my comments undercut that goal. Going forward, reconciliation will be my priority. I have already reached out to many of my Black colleagues and other Black leaders to express my regret in order for us to heal.

“I ask for forgiveness from my colleagues and from the residents of this city that I love so much. In the end, it is not my apologies that matter most; it will be the actions I take from this day forward. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to make amends,” she added.

“Therefore, effective immediately I am resigning as President of the Los Angeles City Council,” she said.

The statement didn’t say Martinez was resigning from her council seat. A representative couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday.

The audio surfaced on a Reddit discussion board this month but was deleted. The source of the recording is unknown, and NBC News hasn’t determined whether it has been edited.

News of the racist comments caused politicians to weigh in throughout the state.

In a statement about the remarks Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said “racist language can do real harm.”

“I’m encouraged that those involved in this have apologized and begun to take responsibility for their actions,” Newsom said. “These comments have no place in our state, or in our politics, and we must all model better behavior to live the values that so many of us fight every day to protect.”

U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., himself a former president of the Los Angeles City Council, said in a statement that the comments were “racist” and “dehumanizing.”

“At a time when our nation is grappling with a rise in hate speech and hate crimes, these racist comments have deepened the pain that our communities have endured. Los Angeles deserves better,” Padilla said.

Source: NBC