Footage of the altercation, which took place at Lincoln Park following the giveaway and tree lighting, was posted on Twitter via two activist groups, RootsAction and J-TOWN Action and Solidarity. The man de Leon appeared to wrestle to the ground was identified as Jason Reedy, a People’s City Council organizer.
In an interview with CBS Los Angeles, de Leon, a Democrat, said he was “headbutted, punched twice” and said the footage that emerged online was cleverly edited. He said he was considering pressing charges.
The groups subsequently released longer footage of the altercation on Saturday.
De Leon’s office said Reedy and other activists were at fault.
In a message that was sent to the Los Angeles Times, the councilman said he, a volunteer, and a staff member were “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. Violence is not free speech and has no place in politics or democracy,” it continued.
The attorney who represents Reedy, Shakeer Rahman, said that de Leon was “a disgrace.”
“Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters initiating this assault while Mr. Reedy stands prone. Not only has Kevin de Leon lost all political legitimacy, his claims that he was the one attacked here simply underscores how he’s lost touch with reality,” Rahman said.
The incident came just hours after de Leon arrived for work at a council meeting 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, along with Los Angeles labor leader Ron Herrera. Councilman Gil Cedillo, 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.