L.A. Council Member Faces Backlash After Racist Phone Call Where Black Child Called A ‘Monkey’

Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

After a racism controversy rocked the Los Angeles City Council in October, one person involved is trying to stick to business as usual–but many of his colleagues aren’t having it.

City Council Member Kevin De León returned to Council chambers Friday and was met with protestors, Politico reports. When De Leon took his seat, some Council Members left, essentially preventing the meeting from going forward.

De León has faced criticism after audio leaked of then-Council President Nury Martinez calling the Black son of fellow Council Member Mike Bonin a “little monkey.” The phone conversation– which included De Leon and a handful of other Latino leaders in Los Angeles– was rife with other racist and insensitive remarks directed at additional racial and ethnic groups.

Bonin left the meeting and called out De León on Twitter, calling him a “vile racist.”

De León’s attempted return comes just as L.A. is preparing to inaugurate its first woman mayor, former Congressional Black Caucus chair Karen Bass. Amid Black American and Latino tension in the city, Bass is being looked at as a unifier between the groups.

Although other leaders on the call resigned or stepped away from politics, De Leon has remained in his high-profile position. After audio leaked he told reporters, “Those comments weren’t mine. Those comments don’t reflect my values, nor my principles as a human being and a man,” de León said. “Those horrible comments did not come from me.”

Bonin, who was joined by two other Council Members in the walkout, has continued to insist that De Leon resign.

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