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Video shows LA council member Kevin de León fighting with activist


Hours after angering protesters with his first in-person appearance in two months at a Los Angeles City Council meeting, Kevin de León was embroiled in a fight with an activist on Friday night, in at least one altercation. partially filmed.

The council member said in a statement that he was assaulted. Activists said De León was the attacker.

De León was in Lincoln Park delivering toys and lighting a Christmas tree when the incident happened, 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 portion of an altercation between De León and a man identified in the description as Jason Reedy, a People’s City Council organizer.

The video, in slow motion, shows the council member with others behind him in a hallway. De León pushes Reedy onto a table before grabbing Reedy again and forcing him down what appeared to be a hallway or doorway.

The 10-second video clip does not describe any other part of the Friday night incident.

In a statement, De León said he, a staff member and a volunteer were “violently and physically assaulted by self-proclaimed activists at a community holiday event much to the dismay of a multitude of families and children. who were there to celebrate a Christmas tree”. lighting and to receive toys and food.

“The escalating rhetoric is reaching a fever pitch, escalating from verbal threats to actual acts of violence and must stop before more serious damage or loss of life occurs,” the statement said. “Violence is not free speech and has no place in politics or democracy.”

Jason Reedy speaks at Friday’s city council meeting.

(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

In a statement to The Times on Friday night, Shakeer Rahman, an attorney representing Reedy, called De León a “disgrace.”

“Video footage clearly shows him and his followers launching this assault as Mr. Reedy stands prone,” Rahman said. “Not only has Kevin de León lost all political legitimacy, but his claims that he was the one attacked here just underscores how out of touch he has been with reality.”

De León’s office said Reedy and other activists present were at fault.

Pete Brown, a spokesman for De León, said the board member was headbutted by Reedy, a member of his staff was elbowed in the face and a volunteer was given a punch in the arm.

No headbutting was captured on video, which Brown says begins after it happened.

Asked to respond to the headbutting allegation, Rahman called it “false”.

“Mr. Reedy was critical of Kevin de León’s political record and echoed widespread demands for his resignation,” the attorney said. “De León’s supporters then initiated physical contact by shoving him, and De León grabbed M Reedy Mr. Reedy had his hands up and had no contact with anyone until De León grabbed him.

Before the video began, De León was on a stage on site when protesters entered, the spokesperson said. He tried to walk away but was chased by the activists, who blocked the exits, according to Brown.

A social worker who represented a nonprofit on Friday night said the event ended when the activists entered the room.

He did not wish to give his full name for fear of reprisals and identified himself only as Giovanni.

Giovanni told The Times that he saw Reedy try to headbutt De León but 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 released later Friday, city council president Paul Krekorian called the incident an assault on De León, his staff and a volunteer, and an “intolerable” crime.

Krekorian said the incident will be “vigorously investigated” by the Los Angeles Police Department.

“No matter what differences we may have with elected officials or our fellow citizens, such violence is totally unacceptable,” he said. “In a free society, political disagreements are inevitable and heated discussion is necessary, but violence discredits the cause that employs it.”

Authorities gave little confirmation of the incident and did not identify anyone involved.

Officers were called at 6:30 p.m. to the 3500 block of Valley Boulevard to a report of a large scuffle involving eight possible suspects, said Officer Drake Madison, an LAPD spokesman.

The suspects had fled by the time officers arrived, Madison said. Officers took a report from a victim.

Firefighters were called to the scene to assess an adult male, but the man was not taken to hospital, said Nicholas Prange, spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Friday night’s altercation followed a tense City Council meeting which saw De León make his first appearance in two months.

It was the first time he had been in the council chambers since mid-October, when fallout from a racist audio cassette leak rocked the city.

The question of when – or if – De León would return had loomed large at City Hall. His name was frequently invoked even as his seat remained visibly empty, with protesters routinely interrupting meetings three times a week to demand his resignation.

De León, who apologized following the taping, was adamant he had no plans to quit. He began quietly re-entering the public sphere about a month ago, attending food giveaways, holiday meals and other community events, but avoided the council chambers until Friday morning.

Police told The Times earlier in the day that Reedy and another man were kicked out of Friday’s city council meeting over fears the men were about to engage in a physical altercation.

Times writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.


California Daily Newspapers

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