LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles City Council member embroiled in a scandal over racist remarks and an activist fought at a Friday night holiday event.
The activist and Kevin de León got into an altercation at a toy giveaway and holiday tree lighting at Lincoln Park, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Earlier on Friday, de León attended his first City Council meeting in nearly two months following a scandal that erupted after a recording surfaced in October of former council President Nury Martinez, outgoing Councilman Gil Cedillo, de León and a labor union leader participating in a closed-door meeting in which racist language was used to mock colleagues while the participants schemed to protect Latino political strength in council districts.
Martinez resigned. Cedillo lost a June election and his last day in office is Monday. De León has apologized and said he has no plans to resign.
De León said in a statement to the newspaper that he was assaulted Friday night, while activists said the council member was the aggressor.
The Times reported two local activist organizations, RootsAction and J-TOWN Action and Solidarity, posted a video on Twitter showing a portion of the incident between De León and a man identified as Jason Reedy, a People’s City Council organizer.
De León’s office said Reedy and other activists were at fault. De León spokesperson Pete Brown said the council member was head-butted by Reedy, a member of his staff was elbowed in the face and a volunteer was punched in the arm, the Times reported.
De León’s statement to the Times said they 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 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,” the statement said. “Violence is not free speech and has no place in politics or democracy.”
Shakeer Rahman, an attorney representing Reedy, called de León “a disgrace” in a statement to the Times Friday night.
“Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters initiating this assault while Mr. Reedy stands prone,” Rahman said. “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.”