Black Lives Matter group camped near Kevin de León's home say they won't leave until he resigns

Friday, October 21, 2022
BLM group camps out near Kevin de León's home, calling for resignation
Protesters with Black Lives Matter have been camping out near Kevin de León's Eagle Rock home over racist remarks made in a leaked conversations among councilmembers and say they won't leave until he's gone.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For the past several days, members of the Black Lives Matter organization in Los Angeles have been protesting in Councilmember Kevin De Leon's neighborhood calling for his resignation, even after he publicly apologized for his involvement in a conversation in which he and other councilmembers made inappropriate and racist remarks.

Former Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmember Gil Cedillo and de León have all issue apologies after the leaked audio from the October 2021 conversation became public.

In it, Martinez is heard referring to Councilman Mike Bonin's Black son by a racist slur in Spanish.

Protesters with Black Lives Matter have since been camping out near de León's Eagle Rock home and say they won't leave until he's gone.

They have been angered by discussions in the recorded conversations about redistricting in which it appears the councilmembers were looking at ways to reduce representation of the city's Black community.

"It was horrendous what these folks have said, but it's more horrendous what these folks have done," said Dr. Melina Abdullah with Black Lives Matter. "We need to be clear that it was Kevin de León's words that were problematic when he co-signed on the diminishment and dehumanization of a Black toddler."

This week, de León apologized for his silence and called it a "bad joke" when he compared Bonin's son to a designer bag, saying it was directed at Martinez.

"No. You made those remarks. You laughed at those jokes, and we heard you, and now, we're telling you, you need to step down," said Aurora Pedro of the Indigenous-led organization CIELO. "If you continue to ignore the calls for your resignation, that says a lot, and you're not the person to be doing this job."

The city council held a meeting on Friday for the first time since de León said he doesn't plan to resign.

The council has so far conducted its business this week despite de León and Cedillo continuing to resist widespread calls to resign, with just 10 members -- the minimum for a quorum -- present for most of Tuesday and Wednesday's meetings.

Neither de León nor Cedillo have attended a council meeting since last Tuesday, when they were forced to leave the chamber as protesters shouted at them.

Members of the public who attended Friday's city council meeting, which was held virtually, expressed anger over de León and Cedillo's refusal to step down.

"Stop this meeting," one man said during the public comment section. "No 'business as usual' with the racist Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo on City Council. The public is already deep in the work to recall KDL but this council continues to fail its city as it continues to normalize the motives which we've seen those councilmembers express."

It is unclear when the council will return to in-person meetings.

Both Paul Krekorian and Councilman Mike Bonin have tested positive for COVID-19 since last week, though Bonin has since tested negative.

Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, the council's president pro tempore, presided over Wednesday's meeting in front of an empty chamber while Krekorian and the other council members joined remotely.

A spokesman for Cedillo said Wednesday night that the councilman remains at "a place of reflection," echoing a comment he made Monday.

In the leaked conversation, former L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Gil Cedillo are heard mocking Oaxacans, calling them "ugly".

Council members make nearly $229,000 in annual salary -- or more than $8,700 every two weeks -- with de León and Cedillo continuing to collect paychecks as long as they stay in office.

On Friday, the council was set to consider an ordinance to prohibit misleading advertising by pregnancy services centers in L.A., recommendations to expand the city's Eviction Defense Program and a report on amending the city code to require air conditioning in all rental units in Los Angeles.

The council was also scheduled to take up several items accepting grants for housing.

Meanwhile, L.A. mayoral candidate Rep. Karen Bass on Friday met with civic leaders to discuss redistricting. At a news conference in Lafayette Park, called for community leaders of different faiths, ethnicities, ages and neighborhoods to lead the redistricting process instead of elected officials.

While the council met this week, many committee meetings were canceled -- meaning items that need to clear committees before heading to the council will be delayed until next week at the soonest. On Thursday, both the council's Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River and Information, Technology, and General Services committees put up notices of cancellation hours before the scheduled meetings.

Both de León and Cedillo were also stripped of their committee assignments last week, leaving the vital Homelessness and Poverty, and Housing committees without chairs. Councilwoman Nithya Raman is vice chair for both committees, though Krekorian has the authority to appoint committee members and chairs.

City News Service contributed to this report.