LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating whether it has illegally recorded audio of members of the city council making racist remarks, the police chief said Tuesday.
The 2021 recording has been leaked online and published by the Los Angeles Times earlier this month.
It has sparked a storm of controversy that has led to the resignation of Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez — first from her leadership role and then from the entire board — and demands that two other members resign as well.
LAPD chief Michel Moore said during a… media availability On Tuesday, the department was asked Friday to investigate whether the group had been illegally recorded.
Investigators have no suspect and “right now the investigation is wide open,” Moore said in response to questions from The Associated Press, the video of which was posted online by police.
The 2021 meeting was attended by Martinez, councilors Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera, the chairman of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.
Moore answered “yes” when asked if it was Martinez, de León, Cedillo and the president of the federation who made the request.
“An announcement from the individuals who were at the meeting came to the department asking for an investigation and the allegation that a crime had been committed, that they had been unlawfully and surreptitiously recorded,” Moore said. “And we’re conducting that investigation.”
Herrera has resigned. A spokesperson for the federation said he no longer works for the organization and that the current leadership has not made the request.
De León and Cedillo have not resigned despite calls.
An emailed request for comment sent to de León’s office on Tuesday evening was not immediately answered. Attempts to reach the office of Cedillo, who lost a primary in June and whose term ends in December, failed.
On Tuesday, protesters shouted at councilors during the government body meeting, demanding that De León and Cedillo resign, NBC Los Angeles reported.
During the 2021 meeting, which was apparently about political strategy and realignment, Martinez used racist language to refer to the black son of another councilor, Mike Bonin. She used a Spanish term to call the child an animal.
Martinez, Cedillo, de León and Herrera are Latino Democrats. At one point, Martinez is also heard saying that Los Angeles district attorney George Gascón, in part, “he’s with the blacks.”
The recording surfaced on a Reddit discussion board this month, but was removed. The source of the audio is unknown and NBC News has not determined whether it was edited.
Martinez resigned from the city council on October 12, two days after stepping down from her role as council chair.