By Ray Richardson
LOS ANGELES — Embattled City Councilman Kevin de León may have caused further damage to his efforts to reconcile with the Black community when he claimed Councilman Curren Price “was supposed to be at the meeting” where racist comments by Latino leaders were secretly recorded, a claim Price emphatically denied.
“I was not aware of that meeting and I had no invitation to attend that meeting,” Price said during a live phone interview Oct. 25 on KBLA Talk 1580 with Tavis Smiley.
Price called KBLA about 30 minutes after Smiley concluded his one-hour, in-studio interview with de León, who appeared on Smiley’s show to apologize to the Black community for his role in the infamous meeting in October 2021 and to explain his reasoning for not resigning.
De León, who represents the 14th District, was caught on tape engaging in a racist conversation with former City Council President Nury Martinez, City Councilman Gil Cedillo and Ron Herrera, the former president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. The conversation included disparaging remarks about several minority communities and City Councilman Mike Bonin’s African-American son.
Martinez and Herrera have resigned from their positions, but de León and Cedillo continue to resist stepping down despite widespread calls for their resignations. Cedillo and de León have been censured by the City Council and stripped of their committee assignments.
De León mentioned Price’s alleged involvement in the meeting near the end of his interview with Smiley. De León was unavailable for comment to clarify his statement about Price, who remained defiant with City Council members that de León must step down.
“There will be continued calls for him to resign,” Price said of de León. “He was complicit in that conversation. He has to go.”
Price’s sentiments were reflected throughout L.A.’s Black community. During de León’s appearance at KBLA, protesters picketed outside the station’s front and back entrances. De León was booed and yelled at as he left the station.
Protesters continue to maintain encampments outside de Leon’s home in the Eagle Rock neighborhood. Bonin and Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson joined protesters Oct. 24 outside de León’s home to help persuade him to resign. Eunisses Hernandez, who defeated Cedillo in June to represent the 1st District, has joined protesters several times at de Leon’s home. Hernandez will take office in December unless Cedillo resigns before then.
Melina Abdullah of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles has helped organize the peaceful protests outside de León’s home. She indicated on KBLA that the multi-ethnic group is committed to remaining at the location “as long as it takes.”
“We’re going to camp out until he gets out,” Abdullah said. “Besides all the hateful comments, the meeting was called to figure out how to change districts and undermine Black people. It was Black people who they were conspiring against.”
Abdullah added that de León offered a “fake apology” during his interview on KBLA and is “feeding his own ambitions” over progress for the city and his district.
Numerous elected officials and high-profile individuals, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson, have called for Cedillo and de León to resign. With Cedillo on the way out in December after his loss to Hernandez, more pressure is being aimed at de Leon. His term doesn’t end until Dec. 9, 2024.
“I’ve known de León for a long time,” said Assemblyman Reginald Sawyer-Jones, who represents the 59th Assembly District, which covers parts of South L.A. “He’s always been a fighter and doesn’t like to back down from challenges. This is one time where he needs to make the hard decision, so the city can heal. It’s very important for him to come off the stage.”
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.