California’s Democratic leaders will investigate redistricting in Los Angeles over a leaked conversation among Hispanic council members who made anti-black remarks.
The probe is the latest escalation in a nationwide firestorm that has exposed ethnic tensions within the Democratic party’s coalition.
Racial controversy leads to LA redistricting probe
The scandal erupted when a conversation leaked in which former council president Nury Martinez discussed protecting Latino political power in the highly diverse city with other Hispanic council members.
Martinez used racist language to describe the adopted Black son of a white council member, Mike Bonin, and complained that LA’s far-left district attorney was “with the Blacks.” Another council member, Kevin De Leon, suggested Bonin uses his son as an accessory, like a handbag.
The California Legislative Black Caucus said the conversation “reveals an appalling effort to decentralize Black voices during the critical redistricting process.”
California’s Democrat attorney general Rob Bonta said he opened an investigation into redistricting and that it could lead to criminal charges.
“It could lead to criminality if that’s where the facts and the law dictate,” he said. “There’s certainly the potential for civil liability based on civil rights and voting rights laws here in the state of California.”
Biden weighs in
Bonta said there is “no place for anti-Black, antisemitic, anti-Indigenous, anti-LGBTQ, or any kind of discriminatory rhetoric in our state.”
Martinez stepped down on Wednesday after the scandal blew up and angry protesters, chanting “we’re with the blacks,” gathered to demand that she resign along with others involved in the leaked chat.
She was the first Latina to hold her post, and she had described herself as “a glass-ceiling shattering leader who brings profound life experience as the proud daughter of working-class immigrants.”
President Biden has called on other participants in the conversation to follow Martinez and step aside.
“The president is glad to see that one of the participants in that conversation has resigned, but he believes they all should resign,” Biden’s spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre, said.