Embattled LA city councilman caught on video fighting political activist at holiday event

Following a two-month absence from council chambers, Los Angeles City Council member Kevin de León found himself in the middle of a fight with an activist at a Christmas tree lighting and toy giveaway in Lincoln Park.

RootsAction and J-TOWN Action and Solidarity — two local activist organizations — posted part of the brouhaha on Twitter in a video that has now gone viral.

The activists blame the council member for the altercation, while de León says it was activist Jason Reedy, an organizer with the People’s City Council, who assaulted him, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the 10-second, slowed-down clip, de León can be seen pushing Reedy onto a table, then strongarming him down what looks to be a hallway. The video does not show what preceded the images posted, and according to de León, he, a staff member, and a volunteer were “violently and physically assaulted.”

“This evening a staff member, volunteer, and I were violently and physically assaulted by self-proclaimed activists at a community holiday event 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 Democrat council member said in a statement released Friday.

“The escalating rhetoric is hitting a fever pitch, transcending from verbal threats into actual acts of violence and must end before more serious harm or loss of life occurs,” he continued. “Violence is not free speech and has no place in politics or democracy.”

Reedy’s lawyer, Shakeer Rahman, tells a different story, claiming that de León is “a disgrace.”

“Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters initiating this assault while Mr. Reedy stands prone,” Rahman said in a statement to The Times. “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.”

But according to the council member’s spokesperson, Pete Brown, Reedy allegedly head-butted de León and elbowed a staff member in the face. A volunteer reportedly received a punch in the arm.

Naturally, none of these assaults were captured on the video, and Rahman called the head-butting claim “false.”

“Mr. Reedy was criticizing Kevin de León’s political record and echoing the widespread demands for him to resign,” explained Rahman. “De León’s supporters then initiated physical contact by shoving him, and de León grabbed Mr. Reedy. Mr. Reedy had his hands up and made zero contact with anyone until after de León grabbed him.”

A social worker in attendance, identified only as “Giovanni,” said he witnessed Reedy try to head-butt de León, but he failed to do so. He eventually pulled de León away from the protesters and into another room.

City Council President Paul Krekorian released a statement on Friday in which he sided with de León’s account of the events and called the assault an “intolerable” crime, adding that the Los Angeles Police Department would “vigorously” investigate the incident.

“No matter what disputes we may have with elected officials or our fellow citizens, violence like this is completely unacceptable,” Krekorian said. “In a free society political disagreements are unavoidable, and passionate discussion is necessary, but violence discredits the cause that employs it.”

So far, authorities have divulged little in the way of details.

An LAPD spokesperson, Officer Drake Madison, said that officers were called to the scene to respond to a large fight involving eight possible suspects. By the time they arrived, the suspects had fled.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Nicholas Prange said that firefighters were on the scene to assess an adult male, who was not taken to a hospital.

De León came under fire in mid-October, after a racist audio tape involving him, then-Council President Nury Martinez, council member Gil Cedillo, and County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera was leaked and went viral.

Days after the audio went public, Martinez resigned, and many called for de León to do the same.

Just hours before the fight, de León made his first, tense appearance at a City Council meeting in two months.

According to The Times, police had stated that Reedy and another man were ejected from that meeting “out of concern that the men were about to get into a physical altercation.”

Republished with permission from American Wire News Service


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