Holiday cheer was given the ol’ heave-ho-ho-ho Friday night, as a Los Angeles City Council member was involved in a fight with an activist at a Christmas tree lighting event.
Councilman Kevin de León was at a toy giveaway and holiday tree lighting at Lincoln Park, the Los Angeles Times reported. As might be expected, there were conflicting accounts of who initiated the confrontation.
León said in a statement to the media outlet that he was assaulted. Activists pointed the finger at De Leon as the aggressor.
De Leon attended his first council meeting on Friday since a tape emerged in which a highly charged discussion of racial issues ensued. De Leon was one of several people on the tape, and has since resisted calls for his resignation.
Two local activist organizations, RootsAction and J-TOWN Action and Solidarity, posted a video on Twitter showing the incident between De León and a man identified as Jason Reedy, a People’s City Council organizer.
De Leon’s spokesperson, Pete Brown, told the Times the council member was head-butted by Reedy. Several other staffers were assaulted, he claimed.
De León issued a statement claiming he was “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.”
Shakeer Rahman, an attorney representing Reedy, called De León “a disgrace” in a statement to the Times Friday night.
“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.”
No details on whether charges were filed by either party were immediately available.