Councilor Kevin de León spoke for the first time since the infamous leaked council tapes, saying he had no intention of stepping down.
In interviews with Noticias Univision, a Spanish-language news channel, de León said he plans to mend his relationship with his constituents and should have stopped the conversation that was taking place when it started to become inappropriate.
Reiterating those points in a CBS2 interview, De León said, “I need to help heal” and “restore confidence.” Speaking in a passive tone that passed the blame onto former council chairman Nury Martinez, councilman Gil Cedillo and former LA Fed Union chairman Ron Herrera, De León said his comments were “Flippant.”
Within the leaked hour-long recording, de León could be heard conducting conversations pertaining to Councilor Mike Bonin’s adopted son, who is black, making jokes about his voters in Oaxaca, and reclassification talks leading to an investigation by the California State Department. Department of Justice and led the council to present on Tuesday measures to change the reclassification process.
“Kevin de León cannot be part of the cure as long as he refuses to resign,” Bonin said in a statement on Wednesday. “His stubborn refusal to do what everyone knows is necessary only deepens the wound he inflicted on Los Angeles.”
These are some of De León’s words that protesters, Angelenos, the municipality itself and even the Biden administration have been clinging to since the leak.
Comparing black protesters to the man behind the curtain in Wizard of Oz:
“They scream like there’s 250, when we’re 100…but if you pull back the curtain…you’ll see the little wizard of Oz.” Councilor de Leon
Comparing Councilor Bonin’s interactions with his black son:
“…when Nury brings her little garden bag or the Louis Vuitton bag.” Councilor de Leon
When the group discussed councilor Nithya Raman and her district as “not a district we can count on”.
“So you’re saying that’s the one to put in a blender and chop left and right?” Councilor de Leon
Councilor Mike Bonin:
“Kevin de León’s comments are gas lighting of the highest order. He describes cruel, degrading comments about a child as “faggot.” He says he should have ‘intervened’, as if he were just a spectator of a racist conversation in which he played a central and libelous role.
“Kevin de León has the opportunity one day to do penance and ask forgiveness from all of Los Angeles, and from the black community and from my son in particular. But that starts with his resignation from the city council. Whatever he says, today his comments on that tape make it clear that he is unfit for office in this city.
“He cannot be part of the cure as long as he refuses to step down. His stubborn refusal to do what everyone knows is necessary only deepens the wound he inflicted on Los Angeles.”
New Los Angeles City Council President Paul Krekorian:
“Apologies will not be nearly enough to undo the damage this city has suffered. The hateful words spoken in that secret meeting have opened a deep and painful wound in this city. People are in pain and demand change. The only way we can begin to heal as a city is for Mr. De León to take responsibility for his actions, accept the consequences, and step down.
“I believe Mr De León has what it takes to be a better person than we heard on that tape, but apologizing is not the same as making amends. We need to show the world that there is no seat for racism, exclusion and disrespect in the Los Angeles City Council.”
Future District 1 Councilor Eunisses Hernandez:
“There’s a lot of work to be done, but you don’t have the credibility to take it forward. You were willing to give up your seat when you became mayor. What has changed? Do the right thing Kevin, resign. Your legacy will be that you take no responsibility for your damage.”
Councilor Bob Blumenfield:
“While I believe in individual redemption, the needs of the city come first. The fact that Mr. De León, as well as Mr. Cedillo, remain on this board is both a distraction and a barrier to meeting these needs. Too much is at stake. I will continue to argue for their resignation.”
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