Screenshot of video by RootsAction and J-Town Action & Solidarity, showing Kevin de León grabbing activist Jason Reedy at Friday's event.

Kevin de León was involved in a fight with an activist at a toy giveaway and tree-lighting ceremony in Lincoln Heights Friday night that was partially caught on video. 

The embattled council member said in a statement that he was assaulted. Activists told the Los Angeles Times that de León started the fight.

The fight at the Lincoln Park holiday event capped a chaotic Friday for De León, whose unannounced appearance at a City Council meeting in the morning provoked loud protests and forced a 45-minute delay in proceedings.

A 10-second, slow motion video posted to Twitter by activist organizations RootsAction and J-TOWN Action and Solidarity shows de León pushing a man onto a table, then grabbing him again and forcing him down a doorway.

The organizations, which have called for De León’s resignation because of his participation in a recorded conversation that included racist comments, identified the man in the video as Jason Reedy, an organizer with the People’s City Council. 

A longer, full speed version of the video posted Saturday morning shows a few seconds before the altercation as Reedy and other activists follow de León into an office shouting “Resign Kevin” and “You’re a racist.” Reedy is seen confronting de León with his hands up in the air before de León pushes him.

In a statement released Saturday morning, De León said a group of people “cornered and physically assaulted me, a staff member and a volunteer”:

Jason Reedy and his accomplices started by shouting obscenities and disrupting a community toy giveaway and tree lighting ceremony already underway. I decided to try to exit the event to draw the disrupters away from the attending families and children and leave without further incident. Still, we discovered Reedy and others had blocked all available exits. 

Once we were able to push open a door and try to get out, Reedy launched a pelvic thrust, followed by a headbutt to my forehead. My response, in defense of myself, was to push him off of me. In the ensuing struggle, Reedy struck me in the face with a closed fist, violently elbowed a female staff member, and injured a volunteer in front of horrified parents and children. 

The escalating political rhetoric is beyond unacceptable, now turning verbal threats into physical acts of violence. It’s a dangerous pattern that must end before more serious harm or loss of life occurs.  Leaders must collectively step up to curb rising hostilities towards staff and elected officials. In no way is violence a form of free speech and acts like these have no place in politics or democracy.

On Friday night, an attorney representing Reedy issued a statement to the Times in which he called De León “a disgrace.

“Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters initiating this assault while Mr. Reedy stands prone,” the attorney Shakeer 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.”

The Times reported that police were called at 6:30 pm to the 3500 block of Valley Boulevard for a report of a large fight involving eight possible suspects. An LAPD spokesperson said the suspects, which were not identified, had left the scene by the time officers arrived.

In an interview with CBSLA Friday night, De León said he was considering filing criminal charges against Reedy and the other people involved in the fight.

Earlier in the day, De León drew the ire of activists who regularly attend City Council meetings to demand his resignation, when he unexpectedly showed up at council chambers and took his seat.

Three members of the council reacted to De León’s appearance by walking out. Councilmember Mike Bonin went on Twitter to say: “Vile racist Kevin de León just showed up for council. I walked out.” Members Nithya Raman and Marqueece Harris-Dawson also walked out.

The dramatic moment was reported by City News Service:

“There’s a bit of an uproar at L.A. City Hall, where embattled Councilman Kevin de Leon has made an appearance at a council meeting for the first time since being heard on a racism-laden audio tape recorded last year. His appearance led to loud protests in the council chamber and three council members walked out, prompting a recess in the meeting.”

The council resumed its meeting after a 45-minute delay and after De Leon left.  The Times reported that Reedy was among activists ejected by police from the city council meeting.

De León has been censured by the City Council for his involvement in the scandal over the recorded conversation, but the body lacks the power to remove him from office and the councilmember has said repeatedly that he will not resign his seat. 

This week, the Los Angeles city clerk cleared the way for a recall effort to collect signatures to put De León on the ballot.

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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