LAPD launches probe into source of leaked city council members' racist recordings

The recordings took place at the offices of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, which has called the leak "illegal" and vowed to have those involved prosecuted


By Libor Jany
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore announced Tuesday that his department had launched an investigation into the source of the leaked racist recordings that thrust City Hall into a harsh national spotlight.

Speaking to reporters at a briefing, Moore confirmed that the department's Major Crimes Division was overseeing the investigation, the results of which would be presented to "the appropriate prosecuting agency" for possible criminal charges.

"The department has initiated a criminal investigation into the allegation of eavesdropping into the L.A. Fed meeting involving then-Councilperson Nury Martinez, Councilmember Gil Cedillo and Councilmember Kevin de León and the Fed president Mr. [ Ron] Herrera," Moore said, referring to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

The probe marks a turnaround. Last week, the LAPD said it was not investigating because no one had filed a report.

The recordings took place at the offices of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which has called the leak "illegal" and vowed to have those involved prosecuted. The union attempted to block the Los Angeles Times from publishing details of the recordings, saying they were obtained illegally. The Times refused to halt publication.

It is unclear how the recordings were made. Recording conversations without a person's consent is illegal in California, with rare exceptions.

California Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta is probing the Los Angeles redistricting process that took place last fall, with Bonta saying an inquiry is needed to "restore confidence" in drawing the city's 15 council districts. That process was underway during the recorded discussions, in which then-council President Nury Martinez is heard making racist remarks while talking to former labor leader Herrera, Cedillo and de León about redistricting.

The recording was made during an October 2021 meeting at the federation's offices. Martinez and the other Latino leaders present were seemingly unaware they were being recorded, as Martinez said Councilman Mike Bonin, who is white, handled his young Black son as though he were an "accessory" and described the boy as a "changuito," or like "a monkey."

Martinez also mocked Oaxacans and said "F— that guy … He's with the Blacks" while speaking about Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón. The three also made racist remarks about Jewish and Armenian residents.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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