SAG-AFTRA on Monday called for the resignations of three Los Angeles council members and the president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, after the council president was caught on tape making racist and homophobic remarks.
The actors’ union joined a chorus of outrage that followed the leak on Sunday of an hourlong conversation, in which Council President Nury Martinez disparaged indigenous Mexicans and made racist remarks about the three-year-old Black son of a fellow council member.
“Racism and homophobia have no place in the labor movement, government or society,” the actors’ union said in a statement. “All leaders must be held to a higher standard that centers on anti-racism and immediately calls out discrimination and hateful comments in the moment.”
Martinez resigned her position as council president on Monday. But many leaders — including both candidates for mayor, Rick Caruso and Karen Bass — called on her and Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Kevin De León to give up their council seats as well.
The three council members could be heard on the tape talking with Ron Herrera, the president of the L.A. County Fed, about how best to advantage themselves and harm their opponents in the redistricting process.
SAG-AFTRA, which is a member union of the L.A. County Fed, criticized Herrera for failing to “confront and condemn” the council members’ remarks in real time.
“While the city council members are elected representatives who serve Los Angeles citizens, the LACFL represents more than 800,000 workers in the county, many of whom are people of color and LGBTQIA+. The racism and homophobia expressed by council members and condoned by Herrera during the meeting is inexcusable. It creates and fosters division and animosity within and between Los Angeles communities. There is no excuse for this breach of trust,” SAG-AFTRA said in the statement.
The actors’ union continued:
“Our leaders must be held to a higher standard and work together in the fight for respect, equity and justice in our shared communities. The behavior exhibited by all of the attendees at the meeting is unacceptable. Those who participated in this conversation must demonstrate accountability for their words and actions by stepping down and making space for leaders who can credibly champion the cause of anti-racism and inclusion.”
All four officials have issued apologies for their part in the conversation.