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LAPD opens criminal inquiry into recording that captured racist remarks


Nury Martinez, the former Los Angeles City Council president, in April. The Police Department is investigating whether a recording that captured her and other council members making offensive remarks was made illegally.

By Mike Ives


The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating whether a secretly recorded conversation between three City Council members and a labor leader that included racist insults and slurs was made illegally, Chief Michel Moore said earlier this week.


The leaked audio, recorded last year and made public this month, prompted calls from across the nation for those involved to resign and highlighted racial tensions in Los Angeles.


Moore told reporters Tuesday that the department had “initiated a criminal investigation into an allegation of eavesdropping” related to the conversation.


Moore said that all four people captured on the leaked audio had approached the department Friday to request an investigation. They told the department that they had been “unlawfully and surreptitiously recorded,” he added.


He said there was no suspect in the case.


“At this point, the investigation is wide open,” Moore said. “Obviously this is a sensitive matter, and one that we will pursue. And the investigation will take us where it takes us.”


California law requires that anyone who wants to record a confidential conversation obtain consent from all parties involved. Victims of illegal recordings can pursue civil and criminal penalties.


The recording of the Los Angeles leaders was first reported by The Los Angeles Times this month. It captured Nury Martinez, the City Council’s leader, mocking immigrants and the Black child of a white fellow council member. The three men on the recording did not confront her and, at times, kept the conversation going with derogatory comments of their own.


National news coverage of the conversation prompted calls for everyone involved in it to resign. Ron Herrera, the president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and one of the people speaking in the recording, was the first to do so.


Martinez initially relinquished her leadership post and later resigned from the council under pressure from state leaders and President Joe Biden.


The two other council members caught on tape by the recording, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, have resisted calls for them to resign.

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