Protesters have set up an encampment outside City Councilmember Kevin de León’s home for several days demanding he resign after racist comments he made went public in a leaked audio file that has shaken Los Angeles and the country.
Following L.A. City Councilmember Kevin de León’s refusal to resign amid the scandal surrounding leaked audio featuring him and fellow councilmember Gil Cedillo, former City Council President Nury Martinez and L.A. County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera making racist and anti-indigenous comments, members of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles set up an encampment outside de León’s Eagle Rock home on Saturday, Oct. 11, demanding his resignation. The group has since remained on La Roda Avenue, now reaching their fifth day of occupation.
“It’s not just the words that he said, but it’s the fact that those words influenced his decision-making and policy,” said Sheila Bates, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. “His anti-Black and racist comments translate into anti-Black and racist policies that include things like a high LAPD budget, that include things like 41.18 and include many other illegitimate votes that he made along with the others. … They have to go, and we are not leaving until they go.”
“Kevin de León said that it’s just 25 Black people yelling, so he got to experience what it means to have 25 Black people yelling in front of his house.”
Sheila Bates, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles
The encampment sprouted directly outside de León’s home but moved down the street due to an ordinance that he voted for in 2021, which prohibits picketing within 300 feet of a targeted person’s home. Originally, 25 individuals made up the camp, a deliberate choice in response to a comment Cedillo made in the leaked audio. In the recording, Cedillo is heard saying “25 Blacks are shouting,” to which de León responded, “but they shout like they’re 250.”
“Kevin de León said that it’s just 25 Black people yelling,” Bates said. “So he got to experience what it means to have 25 Black people yelling in front of his house because he refused to resign.” Since its inception, the encampment has grown by a few dozen.
Morale seemed high at the encampment on Monday, Oct. 17, as activists had brought food and set up a series of tents, tables, chairs and even a port-a-potty along La Roda Avenue. The group also posted picket signs, posters and flags throughout the avenue calling for the councilmember’s removal.
“I’m in full support of [the protestors],” said Natalia Martinez, a local resident. “I think it is something that needs to be done. If he’s not going to resign on his own, then it’s up to the people to let him know that that’s what they want.”
Martinez also said the protesters have been respectful since their move into the area. She stated that they have not impeded anyone’s commutes since they stay out of the street and have caused few disturbances.
Bates and other protesters stated numerous times that they have no intention of leaving until de León resigns. Given the numerous calls for his resignation, including statements from President Joe Biden, and the recent stripping of his involvement in City Council committees, one would imagine he would resign soon, though it is still uncertain if and when he will do so.