Councilmember Kevin de León attacked activist Jason Reedy on Friday night, as captured on video, at a taxpayer-funded holiday event in Lincoln Heights.
Video first posted by Roots Action and J-Town Action and Solidarity on December 9 contained a brief, edited clip of the incident, but new video posted by the organizations provides even more damning evidence against the disgraced councilmember and former state senator.
De León attended Friday’s City Council meeting earlier that day, prompting Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Nithya Raman, and Marqueece Harris-Dawson to walk out.
Knock LA first released the leaked audio of De León participating in a racist conversation with Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember Cedillo, and LA County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, in which De León compared Councilmember Mike Bonin’s Black child to an accessory. He also downplayed allegations of sexual harassment against former state senator Tony Mendoza, who resigned from office.
Martinez and Herrera have since resigned, and Cedillo was defeated in his primary election in June. However, De León has so far refused calls to resign.
De León attempted to attend a City Council meeting on October 11, 2022, days after the audio was leaked, and was booed by protesters until he eventually left the chambers. This was his first appearance since.
A recall petition has been launched against the councilmember, whose term ends in 2024, and it needs 20,437 signatures by voters in his district by March 31, 2023.
Jason Reedy is a well-known activist and organizer in Los Angeles, who attends City Council meetings with his baby, and protests against police violence and the treatment of unhoused people. He has been targeted by Los Angeles City Council before, with outgoing Councilmember Joe Buscaino threatening to have his child taken away by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
According to the video available, De León walks toward doors that appear to be leading to an exit after being confronted by Reedy and protesters, and Reedy follows him, filming. De León’s supporters push Reedy into the set of doors.
As De León turns and walks away to the exit, he walks back and seems to both push and pull Reedy through the doors. Then, as Reedy stands with his hands up, De León speaks to him and the two of them put their heads together. De León then grabs Reedy and pushes him down onto a bench, puts his hands around Reedy’s neck, lifts Reedy and throws him down a hallway.
De León says that Reedy “launched” a “pelvic thrust” and headbutted him, and that Reedy and other protesters had blocked all of the exits to the building. He contends he acted out of self defense, and also that in the “ensuing struggle,” Reedy struck him in the face, elbowed a staffer, and injured a volunteer at the event. None of that is captured in the video.
De León did not respond to Knock LA’s requests for comment.
Reedy’s attorney, Shakeer Rahman, released a statement calling De León a “disgrace,” and says that Reedy was assaulted by De León’s supporters while he had his hands up. “Mr. Reedy remained still even as De León threw him around within a packed mob, until he had no choice but to defend himself,” the statement continues.
Steven Chun, an organizer for J-Town Action and Solidarity — which describes itself as a grassroots collective dedicated to revolutionary organizing and mutual aid in Little Tokyo — also was present at the event. He released a statement alleging that De León’s supporters called the protesters racial slurs, which is also not captured on the video.
The LAPD released a statement saying they completed battery reports for both Reedy and De León, and that they will continue to investigate the incident.
City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto declined to comment.
City Council President Paul Krekorian offered his own statement, as reported in the LA Times, backing up De León’s account of the incident, offering no further evidence. Knock LA reached out to Krekorian to ask if he had any further information outside of the contents of the video, and he did not respond by time of publication.
Councilmember Monica Rodriguez also backed up De León, saying that when “protest devolves into wielding physical intimidation, threats and acts of violence, it’s no longer protest — it’s terrorism.” Knock LA also reached out to Rodriguez to ask if she had any further evidence of the incident, and she did not respond.
Former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke at Councilmember Traci Park’s inauguration on Saturday, both defending De León as a victim in the incident and bizarrely downplaying the racist comments heard on the leaked audio of LA city councilmembers and former LA Fed president Ron Herrera. He said that he had “heard worse from better.” Villaraigosa did not respond to a request for comment.
Outgoing councilmember Mike Bonin posted that De León “straight up assaulted” Reedy, and that De León is issuing “demonstrably false statements claiming to be the victim.”
State Assemblymember Isaac Bryan also said that the incident was escalated by De León’s supporters. Assemblymember Pilar Shiavo also wrote that the protests did not justify De León’s behavior, and that comparing protest to violence is “dangerous” and makes De León feel justified in lying to the media.
Incoming councilmember Eunisses Hernandez said that De León’s behavior is “incompatible with holding elected office” and reiterated calls for him to resign.
In January, De León claimed that activists calling into City Council meetings were handing out $20 bills to unhoused people to stay on the street, and never provided any evidence. He later changed his story and asserted that it was members of the now-defunct Street Watch LA handing out bribes.
His communications director, Pete Brown, went even further, claiming to Knock LA that he had video evidence of the alleged bribe, but never actually provided it.
With LA City Council routinely escalating tensions by kicking out protesters at City Hall — including recently for holding up mirrors — at the threat of being arrested by the LAPD, and De León’s refusal to resign from his position, it’s unclear what City Council will do in the future to hold its violent actors accountable.