LA council member’s attempt to return after audio leak prompts protests, walkout by colleagues
A member of the Los Angeles City Council returned to the council chambers after a two-month hiatus following the release of a recording of a racist conversation that he and other members had.
Council member Kevin de León tried to resume his attendance at meetings on Friday, but his presence prompted protests among attendees and a walkout by some of his colleagues on the council.
“Some people are ready to excuse CM de Leon’s behavior. I am not,” tweeted Council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who walked out of the meeting.
Council member Mike Bonin tweeted that “vile racist Kevin de León just showed up for council” and that he had walked out, as did Harris-Dawson and Council member Nithya Raman.
Controversy arose in October after the recording of a conversation from October 2021 between de León, council member Gil Cedillo, former council President Nury Martinez and former L.A. County Labor Federation President Ron Herrera was leaked first on Reddit and later reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Martinez made several racist comments on the recording, including saying the son of a Black Council member looks “like a little monkey” and that he deserves a “beatdown.” She said L.A. District Attorney George Gascón is “with the Blacks” and called certain Mexican immigrants in the city’s Koreatown “short, dark people.”
The group also discussed ways to limit the voting power of Black residents and increase that of Latinos through redistricting.
Martinez resigned as council president and from her seat and Herrera stepped down from his post after the recording was publicized. But de León and Cedillo, who have apologized for the conversation, have refused to resign.
Both were removed from their committee assignments by then-acting council President Mitch O’Farrell, who urged them to follow Martinez’s example in stepping down.
Protests broke out in the meeting room after de León appeared, causing council President Paul Krekorian to call for a 10-minute recess that lasted 45 minutes, CBS reported. Krekorian went to speak with de León after calling the recess, and de León left about 10 minutes later.
CBS reported that de León requested to be excused from meetings in the aftermath of the recording’s leak, but the request had not been granted.
He was reportedly also involved in a fight during a holiday event on Friday, when he said “self-proclaimed activists” assaulted him, a staff member and a volunteer. CBS reported that de León said he plans to press charges against an individual who he alleges hit him “across the face” twice.
Cedillo’s term ends next week following his loss his primary to a challenger in July, before the recording was released.
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