The video shows LA council member Kevin de León fighting an activist
- US News
- December 10, 2022
- No Comment
Hours after Kevin de León drew the wrath of protesters with his first personal appearance in two months at a Los Angeles City Council meeting, he was involved in a fight with an activist on Friday night, an altercation that was at least partly based on video was captured.
The councilor said in a statement that he was attacked. Activists said De León was the attacker.
De León was in Lincoln Park giving away toys and lighting a Christmas tree when the incident occurred, his office told the Times.
A video posted on Twitter by two local activist organizations – RootsAction and J-TOWN Action and Solidarity – shows a brief segment of an altercation between De León and a man identified in the description as Jason Reedy, an organizer of the People’s City Council.
The video, which runs in slow motion, shows the councilor in a hallway with other people behind him. De León pushes Reedy onto a table before grabbing Reedy again and forcing him down a hallway or door.
The 10-second video clip shows no other part of Friday night’s incident.
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.”
“The escalating rhetoric is reaching a climax, moving from verbal threats to actual acts of violence, and must end before more serious damage or death occurs,” the statement said. “Violence is not freedom of expression and has no place in politics or democracy.”
Jason Reedy speaks during Friday’s city council meeting.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
In a statement to The Times Friday night, 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.”
De León’s office said Reedy and other activists present were to blame.
Pete Brown, a De León spokesman, said the councilor was headbutted by Reedy, a staffer was elbowed in the face and a volunteer was punched in the arm.
No headbutts were captured in the video, which Brown said begins after the performance.
When asked to respond to the headbutt allegation, Rahman called it “false.”
“Mr. Reedy criticized Kevin de León’s political record and reiterated widespread calls for his resignation,” the attorney said. “De León’s supporters then initiated physical contact by pushing him, and De León grabbed Mr. Reedy. Mr. Reedy had his hands up and didn’t touch anyone until De León grabbed him.”
Before the video started, De León was on a stage at the venue when protesters walked in, the spokesman said. He tried to leave but was followed by activists who, according to Brown, were blocking the exits.
A social worker representing a non-profit organization Friday night said the event was over when activists entered the venue.
Fearing retribution, he would not give his full name, identifying himself only as Giovanni.
Giovanni told the Times that he saw Reedy attempt to headbutt De León, but that the attempt was unsuccessful.
Eventually, the social worker said, he dragged the council member to another room and away from the protesters.
In a statement later on Friday, City Council President Paul Krekorian described the incident as an attack on De León, his staff and a volunteer and an “intolerable” crime.
Krekorian said the incident is being “rigorously investigated” by the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Regardless of what disputes we may have with elected officials or our fellow citizens, violence like this is totally unacceptable,” he said. “In a free society, political disagreements are inevitable and passionate discussions are necessary, but violence discredits the cause that employs it.”
Authorities have confirmed little about the incident and have not identified any parties involved.
Officers were called to the 3500 block of Valley Boulevard at 6:30 p.m. to report a major fight involving eight possible suspects, said Officer Drake Madison, an LAPD spokesman.
The suspects fled when officers arrived, Madison said. Officers picked up a victim’s account.
Firefighters were called to the scene to examine an adult man, but the man was not taken to a hospital, said Nicholas Prange, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Friday night’s altercation was followed by a tense city council meeting, at which De León made his first appearance in two months.
It was the first time he had been in the council chamber since mid-October, when the aftermath of a leaked racist tape shook the city.
The question of when – or if – De León would return had loomed large at City Hall. His name was frequently mentioned, although his seat was conspicuously empty and protesters regularly interrupted the three-weekly meetings to call for his resignation.
De León, who apologized after the tape, insisted he has no intention of stepping down. He began quietly appearing in public again about a month ago, attending food gifts, holiday meals and other community events but avoiding the council chambers until Friday morning.
Police told The Times earlier in the day that Reedy and another man were barred from Friday’s city council meeting over fears the men would get into a physical altercation.
David Zahniser, a Times contributor, contributed to this report.