De Leon has repeatedly apologized after audio surfaced in October of him conversing with at least three others who hurled racially-tinged attacks at the black son of Councilman Mike Bonin. As pressure continues to mount, including from most prominent California Democrats and President Joe Biden, he is adamant that he will serve out his term until its end in 2024.
“He’s staying and that’s it,” a spokesperson for de Leon told Fox News. “He’s made the decision to stay and represent his constituents on the pressing issues facing them.”
Last Friday, de Leon was at a toy giveaway event when he got into a physical altercation with an activist calling for his resignation. De Leon claims he was “headbutted, punched twice,” and footage of the altercation swirled on social media shortly thereafter. The councilman is considering pressing charges against the activist, who was identified as Jason Reedy, a People’s City Council organizer.
Reedy’s lawyer quickly jabbed at de Leon as “a disgrace” and argued that “video footage clearly shows [de Leon] and his supporters initiating this assault.” Critics of the councilman have commenced a recall process and won approval last Tuesday to collect the signatures needed for a special election. They must secure 20,437 signatures by March 31.
“We’ll leave it to the voters,” said a de Leon spokesperson.
A firestorm surrounding the racist discussion, led to the resignation of the then-City Council President Nury Martinez, along with Los Angeles labor leader Ron Herrera. Additionally, Councilman Gil Cedillo is set to exit the council next week when his term expires. All of the participants in the conversation were Latino Democrats.
Martinez had been heard in the October audio describing Bonin’s child as “ese changuito,” which translates to “that little monkey,” among other racist diatribes.
De Leon has apologized profusely for his actions.
“I’m so sorry. I am extremely sorry, and that is why I apologize to all my people, to my entire community, for the damage caused by the painful words that were carried out that day last year,” De Leon told a Univision anchor, per the Los Angeles Times.
De Leon has been stripped of committee assignments and was censured by the council, but is still getting a paycheck for his work.