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Activists Ejected from Council Meeting After Calling for Kevin de León to Resign

De León is the only participant in the leaked 2021 conversation who still holds office.

4:06 PM PDT on October 10, 2023

A group of protesters calling for Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León to resign and end his 2024 reelection bid were escorted out of Council Chambers Tuesday.

One year after a recording was leaked of three council members participating in a conversation that featured racist language, leaders of Black Lives Matter L.A. and the People's City Council, which bills itself as an "abolitionist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist collective," rallied at City Hall and said de León's presence on the council "gives a green light to anti-Blackness in our city."

De León is the only participant in the leaked 2021 conversation who still holds office. Former City Council President Nury Martinez resigned shortly after the leak. Former Councilman Gil Cedillo, another participant, lost a reelection bid. Then-L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, the fourth participant in the conversation, also stepped down in the wake of the leak.

The four were discussing the redrawing of council district boundaries in favor of the council members when the racist language was used.

Pete Brown, director of communications for de León, said the councilman has continued to do the work and show his commitment to his constituents. Brown said de León has brought affordable housing and interim housing online for unhoused constituents, as well as allocated funding for parks and other improvements throughout his district.

Brown said ultimately, the voters will decide whether de León stays in office or not.

On Oct. 19, 2022, during an interview in which de León said he would not resign his council seat, the councilman told CBS2, "I'm not going to mince words. I'm not going to deflect blame. I'm not going to defend the defenseless."

At the time, de León also sent a letter to Council President Paul Krekorian asking to be excused from council meetings. He said he would be "spending the coming weeks and months personally asking for your forgiveness."

About a week later, in an interview with KBLA's Tavis Smiley, de León called the Black community "the community that I've aggrieved, I've hurt the most," and said he felt a sense of embarrassment and shame.

De León represents the 14th District, which includes Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, portions of downtown L.A., El Sereno, and Northeast L.A.

Although stripped of his council committee assignments, de León has continued to participate in presentations and cultural events and has passed motions with the help of a few of his colleagues.

De León announced his bid for reelection in an interview with Politico, saying he is confident he still has support among his constituency.

Tuesday followed a news conference by BLMLA Monday morning at de León's home.

Jason Reedy, an organizer of both BLMLA and the People's City Council, said he found it "hilarious" that de León "has been claiming he asked hundreds of people for forgiveness over the past year, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people" called for his resignation.

Melissa Acedera, founder of Polo's Pantry -- a community-led organization addressing food insecurity -- said she drove from the Coachella Valley, where she was organizing with farm workers to provide comments. She criticized de León for using food distributions as a way to "save" his image.

"The people of Los Angeles have been taking care of ourselves. You have not been out there," Acedera said.

BLM activist Greg Akili said the anti-Black statements heard on the leaked audio were intended to "diminish" and disenfranchise Black voters.

"We are here to call not only for your resignation, but we are asking your colleagues to vote no against every motion you put forward because if you vote for Kevin de León you are voting for anti-Blackness and racism."

After public comment concluded at Tuesday's council meeting, the protesters continued to chant and call for de León resignation, prompting their removal from chambers pursuant to council rules.

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