Haters, leave Kevin de León alone. He’s playing ustedes

Since mid-November, Los Angeles Councilman Kevin de León has been galloping through his Eastside neighborhood as if the past few months had never happened.

Instead of going on the citywide apology tour he vowed to do after a leaked racist tape turned LA City Hall upside down like few scandals have, his Instagram account has been nonstop promoting videos of him in which he spreads the Christmas spirit. Free toys at Eagle Rock! Free Turkeys in Boyle Heights! Free Christmas Trees! A mariachi serenade for his birthday at Highland Park!

Each reel features a grinning De León literally hugged by grateful Latinos of all ages. His social media team scores them with defiant songs like “El Rey,” “Bitter Sweet Symphony,” a remix of Joe Arroyo’s salsa classic “Rebelión,” and even the old-school jam “Forget Me Nots.”

These Instagram posts are a middle finger for those who have called for De León to resign – everyone from community leaders to President Biden. De León’s excuse is that his working class, mostly Latinos, need him and him alone.

His public appearances also come across as a challenge to his most vocal haters, who have lashed out at him with taunts and profanity throughout the year while filming his reactions on cellphones. His message to her:

Come to me brothers.

The haters fell for his bait on Friday.

In the morning he appeared at a council meeting for the first time since the Times reported on the leaked tape in October. Before De León appeared on the podium, his supporters asked the other council members not to blame their man.

Baldomero Capiz, who has long campaigned to get former braceros’ salaries back from the Mexican government, told the council in Spanish that De León should remain in office “to complete some pending work with the large community he represents.” .

A longtime resident of the De León neighborhood agreed.

“We have the right to vote for him, not others,” the woman said. “The only ones who have the right to take him out are us.”

Meanwhile, a 77-year-old voter explained: “I think a lot [us] immigrants want el senor Kevin de León ends his time with us. Please don’t take the money away from the community.”

When De León finally joined the meeting, Council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Nithya Raman and Mike Bonin walked out. De León’s supporters and opponents began to quarrel with each other. Council President Paul Krekorian called for an immediate break. When the council returned, De León was not there.

This theater of the performative was the prelude to what happened in Lincoln Park later that night, in another embarrassing record of LA politics that has gone viral.

Footage originally uploaded by anti-gentrification groups RootsAction and J-Town Action and Solidarity showed De León donning a bright red Santa hat as he walked toward the exits of an auditorium.

Santa Kevin had just presided over a toy gift for children, but now critics surrounded him, calling for his resignation and accusing him of being anti-black and anti-indigenous.

Smiles turned to screams when Jason Reedy, an organizer for the People’s Council Los Angeles, kicked De León in the face. This wasn’t her first waltz. Even before the leak of the racist tape showing De León ravaging white liberals while other Latino politicians beating up blacks, Oaxacans, fellow councilors and a host of others, Reedy and other fervent anti-De León protesters were waging an aggressive campaign against De León him.

In the past, De León has clapped on Reedy’s phone when Reedy was filming him. In Lincoln Heights, however, the councilman grabbed Reedy’s collar, slammed him against the edge of a table, and then pushed him away when Reedy tried to fight back. Reedy responded by hitting De León at least once. Unfortunately, the Santa hat was trampled on by everyone.

Reedy charges assault. De León argues it was self-defense. Both filed complaints with the Los Angeles Police Department, which is conducting investigations. That incident, and events earlier in the day, brought even more negative attention to LA politics on the very weekend that newly elected Mayor Karen Bass took office, which should provide a much-needed reset.

I support protesters taking their grievances to politicians – good public shame is always healthy for democracy. If anyone needs to be pelted with rhetorical rotten tomatoes, it’s De León. Allowing him at Council meetings isn’t just First Amendment at its finest – it’s a civic duty. Even picketing outside his home, as members of Black Lives Matters have done, is part of the political playbook used by both parties.

But there is a limit when you come across a sinverguenza – a shameless villain – like De León. The escalating actions of the last week will convince few to side with LA’s Reedys and strengthen De León’s hand by allowing him to play the victim card.

In a press release, De León urged his harassers to stop it, stating that their campaign against him is “a dangerous pattern that must be ended before more serious harm or death occurs” — an exaggerated claim he can pack up now.

His persecution narrative is now urging people who might dislike the longtime politician — but who care even less about disruptive protests — to rally to his side.

Protest by Kevin de Leon

A crowd of protesters, demanding Kevin de León’s resignation or the cancellation of the meeting, face police while a City Council meeting at City Hall was on hiatus

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Krekorian, who authored an open letter in October calling for his colleague’s “immediate resignation,” released a statement after the Lincoln Heights brawl: “In a free society, political disagreements are inevitable, and passionate discussions are necessary, but Violence discredits the thing that uses it.”

Monica Rodriguez, who voted with all her fellow councilors to censure De León and then-councillors Nury Martinez and Gil Cedillo over the racist tape, tweeted that “protest no longer leads to physical intimidation, threats and acts of violence to protest – it’s terrorism.” .”

The only people with surefire power to take down De León are his constituents, either through a recall next year or his re-election bid in 2024. They’re the ones receiving all of De León’s recent generosity. They will be the ones who need to be convinced that Santa Kevin is actually Krampus and needs to go. This will take a lot of work and money, not a stream of tweets and TikToks.

It doesn’t look good to boo older, Spanish-speaking voters when they express support for De León during a council meeting. It looks bad to interrupt holiday gifts where the people waiting in line are working-class Latinos. And it’s downright stupid to make kids cry on a Friday night when all they wanted was free toys and not a bunch of adults arguing and swearing.

What’s happening here reminds me of the line from Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth, written in 1966 to capture a different LA in an intimate clash between activists and the establishment — no one is right when everyone is wrong.

De León has to go, more than ever. His use of voters as human political shields is sickening and cynical – and tactically brilliant. Now De León can go to them and say what he argued again and again in that leaked October volume: “They” seek Latino political power. We have to stick together. And I’m the only one who can fend them off.

“My commitment is solid to my community, to my constituents,” he told The Times over the weekend. “I will not allow a group of extremely hostile individuals from outside the district to harass me, my staff, or my constituents.”

So what did the haters win? Every encounter with their target ended the same – De León smiles, then gets angry and his haters scream. Do you have the footage you need? Until next week.

At one such skirmish on Olvera Street in June, just before the primary in which De León came third as mayor, someone sarcastically yelled after the councilman reached for a cell phone, “This is going to look good on camera, Kevin!”

He never looked better after Friday. His haters have never looked worse.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-13/kevin-de-leon-protestors Haters, leave Kevin de León alone. He’s playing ustedes

Alley Einstein

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