Nury Martinez Embraces Racist Three-Fifths Compromise Infecting LA City Hall, SoCal Politics
Council Prez Embodies Yorty, Gates with Alleged Racist Threats on Black Child
By Daniel Guss
@TheGussReport - Every few decades, a high-profile Los Angeles official cements a permanent reputation as a racist, including former LA Mayor Sam Yorty and, later, LAPD Chief Daryl Gates. They earned hateful legacies long before becoming inextricably tied to the Watts and Rodney King riots, respectively.
Now, LA City Council President Nury Martinez ignominiously leads a racist troupe of misanthropes to join them, including Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera. The details surfaced in a shocking LA Times story over the weekend alleging they were involved in a recorded conversation that included racist, threatening comments, particularly targeting the young, Black child adopted by Councilmember Mike Bonin and his husband, Sean Arian.
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Some of the vilest comments were attributed to Martinez, who referred to the young boy as "parece changuito," which means "he looks like a monkey," and in which she said, "...this kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner, and then I'll bring him back."
(1864 Newspaper Etching Depicting an America that still embraced The Three-Fifths Compromise. Source: New York Public Library - Digital Collections )
Martinez also vulgarly referred to the child as "su negrito," or "your little darkie," a demeaning phrase dating to the colonial slavery era, though it resurfaced as recently as 2020 when J-Lo and Colombian artist Maluma used the word "negrito" in their duet Lonely.
The details of this shocking incident, and hopefully its full recording, will play out in the coming days after surfacing last month on Reddit, with much of Los Angeles, its elected officials and candidates calling for their collective resignation, effective immediately.
Some of the longer-ranging consequences of this incident are that Martinez and pals immediately and permanently lose the credibility and platform to call-out racism now and in the future. Also, every decision she made as a member of the LAUSD School Board and that they collectively made on City Council must now be scrutinized.
And now this…
The New York Times reports, “Marqueece Harris-Dawson, a Black council member who represents some of the city’s historic Black communities, not only condemned the comments from colleagues whom he had considered friends but also called for an investigation into the private meeting. He said that it may have violated the state’s government transparency law and called into question the entire redistricting process. ‘I don’t think we’ve ever faced anything like this, so we have to figure out a path,’ he said.”
(Statement from Mike Bonin & Sean Arian)
While Bonin and Arian issued a statement calling for resignations, long-time community activist Najee Ali gave Martinez more benefit of the doubt than most everyone else. He told EurWeb, in part, "...I'm confident that what Martinez said was in a moment of frustration and I believe that's not in her heart. But we believe Martinez should step down as council president. She has lost the trust and confidence of many residents across the city and has to earn that trust back."
That's wishful thinking.
There is precisely zero percent chance that even a single City Council meeting can move forward with so many voices calling for Martinez, Cedillo, de León and Herrera to resign. Cedillo is already on his way out, having lost his job in the primary to young upstart Eunisses Hernandez in the spring primary. She and City Controller candidate Kenneth Mejia, and Council candidates Hugo Soto-Martinez and Sam Yebri quickly followed LA City Attorney candidate Faisal Gill, who was the first name on the upcoming November ballot to call for their resignations on social media.
As of Sunday evening, endorsements by Martinez, Cedillo and de León remained on the campaign website of Mejia’s opponent Paul Koretz, who admitted he was late to join the resignation chorus on Sunday. But tellingly, before dawn on Monday, while Martinez’s endorsement was deleted from Koretz’s website, those of de León and Cedillo remain. Perhaps a little racism is okay to Koretz, who wants to control transparency on things like racist redistricting in the city. But the NAACP had no such hesitancy and issued a demand for each of them and Herrera to resign immediately.
(Paul Koretz’s campaign website scrubbed Nury Martinez’s endorsement, but continues to boast those of de León and Cedillo)
The story has now made national headlines, and a protest reportedly broke-out in front of Martinez's Valley home with clips of some of the hate-filled comments played over amplifiers after she and de León issued surprisingly tone-deaf statements on the stunning allegations against them.
And this from de León:
In what context do you refer to any child in sub-human ways, Nury and Kev?
Martinez’s claim that "my work speaks for itself” is a parapraxis for “my words speak for themselves.”
This is hardly Martinez's first racist rodeo. She largely sat quietly as Ana Guerrero, then-chief-of-staff for Mayor Eric Garcetti, was suspended and stripped of her COS title in June 2021 for brutally disparaging labor leader and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta in a social media chat room she erroneously assumed was private.
(Nury Martinez, left, and Ana Guerrero, right)
Then a few weeks ago, as Martinez haplessly untangled the mess she - and she alone - created when appointing a caretaker for Council District 10 while Mark Ridley-Thomas faces federal bribery charges, she ironically accused some of her peers of racism for simply objecting to her ham-handed process that silenced and marginalized the next leading vote-getter for that office, widely respected Koreatown attorney and public policy advocate Grace Yoo.
Late Sunday, Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, who shares two children with his wife, Kafi, who is Black, condemned the racist comments, but stopped short of calling for resignations.
But the voices I am waiting for the most include Herb Wesson, who is Black and who nominated Martinez to succeed him as Council president. And more than anyone else, I am looking to hear from Wesson's daughter-in-law, Alexis Marin-Wesson.
She is Martinez's chief of staff and shares children with Wesson's youngest son, Justin.
(The Three-Fifths Compromise was a racist 18th Century discounting of every Black person’s existence in America. Its 2022 embrace in LA City Hall has not yet resulted in a single expulsion from City Council.)
Will Marin-Wesson quit to protest her boss's alleged racism (none of the accused have denied making the comments) and stand with her family? If not, what happens when her kids read about it in the future? What happens when they see their grandfather's emotional speech when he left office due to term limits, talking about overcoming the racism and violence he faced throughout his life?
How will Marin-Wesson justify staying silent or even standing alongside her boss, Martinez, who apparently and comfortably believes that another colleague’s Black child is something less than fully human? What about her boss’s vaguely homophobic comments about Bonin and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell? How does Alexis Marin-Wesson justify tolerating any of that?
Oh… This may forecast it. Her husband, Justin Wesson, is chief of staff to Ron Herrera. In some circles, if you’re paid enough to look the other way when it comes to hate, some people will.
While Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly repealed The Three-Fifths Compromise in 1868, it remains alive and well in LA City Hall and the offices of other political power players in Southern California in 2022.
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(Daniel Guss, MBA, was nominated for three 2022 LA Press Club awards and was a runner-up in 2021 and 2020. He has contributed to Mayor Sam, CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, KCRW, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star-News, Los Angeles Downtown News and the Los Angeles Times in its sports, opinion, entertainment and Sunday Magazine sections among other publishers.)
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