Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León was giving out presents to kids at a tree-lighting celebration in Lincoln Park on Friday when a group of protesters showed up. They followed him around the room, calling for his resignation and yelling that he was a racist. One member of the group, Jason Reedy, got directly in de León’s face, at which point the councilman shoved Reedy into a table and tried to push him to the ground. De León’s Santa hat fell off in the process.
Video obtained by the local ABC affiliate shows that Reedy was quite aggressive, swearing and butting his head lightly against de León’s before things got out of hand. According to the Los Angeles Times, Reedy then punched de León. Both parties have filed police reports.
It was a bad ending to a long day for de León. Earlier on Friday, he had appeared in person at a City Council meeting for the first time since October, when a recording emerged in which three members, including de León and City Council President Nury Martinez, made racist comments. As the city’s Democratic government tried to handle the fallout, President Joe Biden came forward urging the three members to resign. De León — who said a white council member treated his Black son like a fashionable accessory — is the only person from the recording still on the council.
At the meeting that preceded Friday’s confrontation, Reedy was among the demonstrators who showed up with his 5-month-old in a harness strapped to his chest. As the protesters shouted, Reedy put headphones over his child’s ears and yelled, “Get him out of chambers right now!” The new council president called for a recess as police officers removed Reedy and others from the room. When the meeting resumed, de León was gone.
Neither de León nor Reedy was willing to admit wrongdoing. “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,” Reedy’s lawyer said in a statement.
“My commitment is solid to my community, to my constituents,” de León said. “I’m not going to let a group of extremely hostile individuals from outside the district bully me or my staff or my constituents.”