A Los Angeles City Council meeting dissolved into chaos when embattled Councilman Kevin de Leon (D) arrived for work despite repeated calls for his resignation over a racist tape recording about his colleagues and members of the community.
De Leon has been largely absent during the past six weeks after social media and news reports distributed an hourlong rant in which he and two Hispanic members bemoaned recent census gains by the black community.
The fallout led to the resignation of then-City Council President Nury Martinez (D), along with Los Angeles labor leader Ron Herrera. Councilman Gil Cedillo (D), who was part of the conversation, will leave next week when his term expires.
But de Leon has refused to quit, and angered members of the community have started a recall process. The city clerk gave approval Tuesday for the collection of signatures to launch a special election. Organizers need 20,437 signatures by March 31.
“Even though the City Council has called for his resignation, and have stripped him of his committee assignments, Kevin de León has refused to resign,” said a statement from the recall campaign. “He currently cannot represent the stakeholders of Council District 14.”
The chambers then erupted into angry chants from audience members who were shouting, “Get out of here!” and “You’ve got to go!”
A recess was called and de Leon did not return to his seat.
The covert recording of de Leon’s conversation was made last year as he, Martinez, and Cedillo discussed carving up white and black districts. The trio made comments about white Councilman Mike Bonin’s (D) black son, comparing him to a monkey, a purse, and a Civil War statue. The group also declared that the district attorney was “with the blacks” and discussed who could be counted on to support Hispanics over the black community.
A state attorney general investigation has started into whether Los Angeles redistricts along racial lines, which is illegal.