Embattled Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de León sat for a one-on-one interview Tuesday with talk radio host Tavis Smiley.
The interview took place at the same time the city council held its first in-person meeting since going virtual due to cases of COVID-19. The council had also been dealing with in-chamber disruptions by protestors over the scandal of racist remarks heard by several council members, including de León, in leaked audio.
During the radio interview, Smiley said that he feels de León and other Latino members of the council were not only anti-Black, but against every group that’s not Latino.
“I began, for the past week and a half, profoundly apologizing,” de León said during the interview, “and I know saying I’m sorry is not enough — I understand that 100% — it’s about atonement. It’s about listening.”
Despite the continued fallout from the scandal, which involved not only racist remarks, but what many say was backdoor dealing regarding redistricting, de León is refusing to resign from his seat on the council.
The leaked audio from the closed-door meeting triggered resignations from former Council President Nury Martinez and labor leader Ron Herrera.
“It would be much easier to resign, that would be much more easier, but look, I said I have decades of history of shared struggle with the community,” de León told Smiley.
“When I hear that tape and when other Black folk I know hear that tape, they hear y’all plotting and planning in that meeting to come for Black folk,” Smiley said. “Y’all shanked us in that meeting. You don’t see it that way?
“No, I don’t see it that way because I see the outcomes,” de León responded. “We protected Black districts. We protected assets within Black districts -”
“I’m going to cut you off,” Smiley interrupted. “Because it turned out that way doesn’t mean that wasn’t your intent.”
De León went on to say that hate and racism are not in his heart and tried to focus on his track record. Smiley, though, pushed the councilman to explain his comments heard in the leaked audio.
“It was a comment that you teed up about a Black child,’ Smiley said, “and that Black child was demonized in that conversation. I ask again, sir, is ‘flippant’ the appropriate word for something that egregious?”
“No,” de León responded. “I shouldn’t have used the word, period.”
Councilman Gil Cedillo, who was also heard in the leaked audio, has not resigned, though his term on the council ends in a few months. De León’s term doesn’t end until 2024.