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Friday, January 27, 2023

L.A. Councilmember Kevin de León in fight with activist hours after chaotic appearance at City Hall

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Hours after drawing protesters’ ire with his first in-person appearance in two months at a Los Angeles City Council meeting, Kevin de León was involved in a fight with an activist Friday night, in an altercation at least partially caught on video.

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

De León was at Lincoln Park for a toy giveaway and holiday tree lighting when the incident occurred, his office told The Times.

A video posted to 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, an organizer with the People’s City Council.

The video, which is in slow motion, shows the council member with other people 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 depict any other portion of Friday night’s incident.

In a statement, De León said that he, a staff member and a volunteer 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.”

Jason Reedy speaks during 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 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.”

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

Pete Brown, a spokesperson for De León, said the council member was head-butted, a member of his staff was elbowed in the face and a volunteer was punched in the arm.

No head-butts were captured on the video, which Brown said starts after it occurred.

Prior to the start of the video, De León was on a stage at the venue when protesters came in, the spokesperson said. He tried to move away but was pursued by the activists, who blocked off exits, according to Brown.

Authorities have confirmed little about the incident and did not identify anyone involved.

Officers were called at 6:30 p.m. to the 3500 block of Valley Boulevard for a report of a large fight involving eight possible suspects, said Officer Drake Madison, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson.

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

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

Times staff writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.

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