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LA Councilmember Kevin de León, Activist Involved in Scuffle at Holiday Event


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Los Angeles police have launched an investigation into an altercation between Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León and a community activist who have accused each other of assault during the embattled councilman's appearance at a Christmas tree lighting in Lincoln Heights.

De León says critics showed up at the event, which included families with children, and started to get loud, calling for his resignation. Video shows the council member shoving someone in what appears to be a hallway, nearly falling to the ground.

De León says he decided to leave when the crowd started getting loud, but says that as he tried to leave, someone whom he says has been harassing him at past events head-butted him and punched him in the face.

The man who was apparently shoved by de León, Jason Reedy, issued a statement through his attorney Shakeer Rahman saying "Kevin de León is a disgrace. Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters initiating this assault while Mr. Reedy stands prone. Not only has Kevin de León lost all political legitimacy, his claims that he was the one attacked here simply underscores how he's lost touch with reality."

De León released a statement Saturday addressing the incident that occurred.

His statement said in part:

"Jason Reedy and his accomplices started by shouting obscenities and disrupting a community toy giveaway and tree lighting ceremony already underway. I decided to try to exit the event to draw the disrupters away from the attending families and children and leave without further incident. Still, we discovered Reedy and others had blocked all available exits.

Once we were able to push open a door and try to get out, Reedy launched a pelvic thrust, followed by a headbutt to my forehead. My response, in defense of myself, was to push him off of me. In the ensuing struggle, Reedy struck me in the face with a closed fist, violently elbowed a female staff member, and injured a volunteer in front of horrified parents and children.

The escalating political rhetoric is beyond unacceptable, now turning verbal threats into physical acts of violence."

The video was shot by an organizer from a grassroots group that has previously called for de León’s resignation. 

The video does not show what happened in the moments that led up to the scuffle.

“He took a swing at me, hit me across the face, and then took a second swing,” de León said. “He missed that swing. Jennifer, my chief of staff came in also, too. He took his elbow, and hit her across the face with his elbow.”

De León attended Friday's council meeting, but his appearance was brief as protesters immediately shouted for him to leave, and he was no longer present after a recess of around 45 minutes.

De León had not attended a council meeting since Oct. 11. He has defied widespread calls to resign over his participation in a racist 2021 conversation with Council members Gil Cedillo and Nury Martinez and a top county labor official that was leaked in October. He is also facing a recall effort that is in the process of gathering signatures.

Protesters have regularly shown up at meetings demanding that de León and Cedillo resign before the city conducts its business. 

De León entered the chamber during public comment and sat in his seat.

Kevin De Leon attended his first city council meeting since October but left early after facing some outrage. Anoushah Rasta reports for the NBC4 News on Dec. 9, 2022.

When audience members realized he was present, protesters shouted for him to leave while his supporters cheered. De León stared blankly at the commotion as he sat in his assigned council seat for the first time in nearly two months.

Council President Paul Krekorian immediately announced a recess and then went over to de León to have an animated discussion, at one point gesturing at the rowdy audience. All the members then walked out of the room.

The audience remained, with de León's supporters chanting “Kevin” while protesters responded with “racist.”

Krekorian said previously that if de León did attempt to come back, other members of the council would leave the meeting. Prior to de León's arrival in the chamber, several of his supporters gave public comment in defense of de León.

When Krekorian resumed the meeting, de León was no longer present in the chamber. Krekorian did not immediately address the situation.

Councilman Mike Bonin, whose son was the target of racist comments during the leaked conversation, said on Twitter that he, along with Council members Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Nithya Raman, walked out of the meeting.

Bonin called de León a “vile racist” who “needs to resign.”

Later, while speaking in opposition to a motion that would report on any damages that have occurred in the council chamber due to the protests, Bonin repeated his call for de León  to resign.

“The problem was in this room 45 minutes ago'' and not the protesters, according to Bonin.

“The problem was on those tapes,” Bonin said. “The problem is in this room. The problem is when somebody's ego refuses to get out of the way of his need to resign. The road to redemption begins with resignation, and that will end the protests.”

Harris-Dawson added on Twitter: “Some people are ready to excuse CM de León's behavior. I am not.”   

“I am not either,” said Councilwoman-elect Eunisses Hernandez, who takes office next week, taking over Cedillo's seat. 



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