Friday night’s fight between embattled councilor Kevin de León and an activist has exacerbated simmering tensions in LA politics over the leak of racist audio that has rocked City Hall.
De León has sparked protests in front of his home and at City Hall. He is the only one of the three councilors on the audio recording who will still be in office next week.
What happened at a Christmas gift giveaway in Lincoln Heights on Friday night took things to another level.
It happened in front of neighborhood children who gathered for a festive party. Many children were upset with what they saw.
What happened at the event?
A video posted by on Twitter on Saturday RootsAction shows activists walking alongside De León within the event, calling for his resignation. Jason Reedy, an organizer for the People’s City Council, stands in front of De León and holds his phone in the councilman’s face. As De León reaches a door, someone pushes Reedy out of the way.
The video shows De León going through the door into a back room and trying to close it. Reedy follows him and the city council seems to push him back. Reedy holds his arms up and stands nose to nose with De León while others taunt the couple. There is a brief fight, then De León grabs Reedy, throws him onto a table and tries to shove him out of the room.
What did the DJ see?
Alan Ochoa, 36, was DJing at the event when he said about five people walked in and started shouting “You’re a racist” at De León.
Ochoa, who grew up in Lincoln Heights, said he doesn’t watch the news and was unaware of the controversy surrounding the leaked audio.
De León was on stage handing out toys to children when it all started. Ochoa said De León left the stage and tried to walk away, but the group started “getting in his face.”
“These little kids started crying and screaming, and that’s when reality hit,” Ochoa said. “He wanted to go away but these guys wouldn’t let him go away. You were just getting in his way.”
The DJ said he and his employee got involved after children started crying and running away.
“As soon as the children participate, that’s an absolute no-go,” he said. Ochoa said he helped push the group out of the auditorium.
“If you want to prove your point, do it outside. Don’t go in there and screw up an entire community event,” Ochoa said. “As it is, we live in a low-income community, and these guys who don’t even live there come in here and mess it up for our community.”
Exactly what happened is still a matter of debate.
In a statement, De León said that he, a staff member and a volunteer “were violently and physically assaulted at a community holiday event by self-proclaimed activists, to the horror of scores of families and children who were there to celebrate a Christmas tree lighting.” and to obtain toys and food.”
Shakeer Rahman, an attorney representing Reedy, called De León “a disgrace.”
“Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters launching this attack while Mr. Reedy is prone,” Rahman said. “Not only has Kevin de León lost all political legitimacy, his claim that he was the one who was attacked here simply underscores how he has lost touch with reality.”
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating.
De León, a former state Senate leader, was at the center of a political maelstrom sparked by a leaked recording first reported by The Times on October 9.
The October 2021 recording captured a behind-closed-door conversation between then-City Council President Nury Martinez, De León and Councilor Gil Cedillo, and Ron Herrera, Chair of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. The local power brokers reportedly met to discuss proposed maps to redistribute the city’s 15 council wards, but the talk included racist and derogatory remarks about Black, Jewish, Armenian, Indigenous and gay people.
At one point, Martinez — who has since resigned from the council — said white councilor Mike Bonin treated his young black son like he was an “accessory,” describing the boy as “parece changuito,” or “like a monkey.” ” Herrera has also resigned from his influential post.
De León seemed to compare Bonin’s handling of his child to Martinez holding a Louis Vuitton handbag.
De León has repeatedly apologized for attending the meeting, called the handbag comment a joke aimed at Martinez’s “liking for luxury accessories,” and said he should have intervened at various other points in the conversation to to stop the racist remarks.
Resist withdrawal requests and recalls
Martinez resigned and Cedillo left the council when his term ended.
But de León has repeatedly said he has no plans to step down, citing the need for representation in his downtown and Eastside neighborhoods. He was elected to the Council in 2020 and has more than two years to go.
Initiating a recall attempt in California is relatively easy, but initiating an election is far more difficult. Most recall attempts don’t make it to the vote.
Under city regulations, supporters of the recall must begin the process by submitting a 300-word statement signed by five voters in the county. A few more procedural steps must be completed within a specific timeline before signature collection can begin.
The recall was released on Tuesday to collect signatures.
Ratchaos on Friday
De León appeared at a Los Angeles City Council meeting on Friday, sparking an uproar among his critics and supporters in the audience. It was the first time he had been in council chambers since his leak became public.
De León’s return lasted only a few minutes. Council President Paul Krekorian immediately called for a break while protesters shouted and police officers filled the room.
When the council session resumed, De León did not return.
In a statement, the city council said it returned to council chambers on Friday represents its constituents, particularly the monolingual Spanish-speaking residents. Some of these Spanish speakers arrived at a council committee meeting on Thursday, only to find bilingual translation services unavailable.
“I stayed after agitators burst from the room to allow the Council President to regain control of the session and continue public comment as so many of those present were my constituents,” he said. “Unfortunately, neither of these happened.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-12-10/inside-the-kevin-de-leon-fight-at-christmas-gift-giveaway-jason-reedy Kevin de Leon fight: what happened at the Christmas gift giveaway