Kevin de León: ‘No, I will not resign’

Los Angeles Councilmember Kevin De León said in a television interview airing Wednesday night that he “will not resign,” according to a partial transcript of the interview released by Noticiero Univision.

“I’m so sorry. I am extremely sorry, and that is why I apologize to all my people, to my entire community, for the damage caused by the painful words that were carried out that day last year,” De León said in the interview with Noticiero Univision anchor León Krauze, according to the transcript. The interview was conducted at Univision 34’s studio in Los Angeles.

“No, I will not resign, because there is a lot of work ahead,” De León said. “There’s a lot of work in trying to handle the crises that are taking place in the district: the [COVID-19] infections, unemployment, the threat of evictions and the humanitarian crisis of homelessness.”

De León also said that he is “sorry for the damage, for the wounds that exist today in our communities.”

Also Wednesday, De León sent a letter to City Council President Paul Krekorian in which he expressed his “deepest apologies” to Councilmember Mike Bonin, his family, his district’s constituents and to every resident of the city. “I will be spending the coming weeks and months personally asking for your forgiveness,” he wrote.

Krekorian, who has repeatedly called on De León to resign, reiterated Wednesday afternoon that the councilman must “step down.”

“I believe Mr. De León has it in him 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 on the Los Angeles City Council.”

Bonin also said Wednesday that De León needs to resign for the city to move forward and that “his stubborn refusal to do what everyone else knows is necessary is deepening the wound he has inflicted on Los Angeles.”

“De León’s comments are gaslighting of the highest order,” Bonin said. “He describes cruel, dehumanizing remarks about a child as ‘flippant.’ He says he should have ‘intervened,’ as if he were a mere bystander to a racist conversation in which he played a central and ignominious role.”

De León gave similar comments in an interview that aired Wednesday on KCAL-TV Channel 9. His statements follow widespread calls for his resignation, including from President Biden. Then-acting City Council President Mitch O’Farrell on Monday stripped De León and Councilmember Gil Cedillo of committee duties in an effort to pressure them to resign.

De León, the onetime leader of the California state Senate, took part in the October 2021 meeting with then-City Council President Nury Martinez, Cedillo, and Ron Herrera, the leader of the Los Angeles Labor Federation, to discuss the proposed redistricting maps of the city’s 15 council districts and how to retain and expand Latino political power. Martinez and Herrera both resigned last week.

The conversation focused on heavily on race, and at one point De León suggested that Bonin used his Black son as a prop akin to a designer handbag.

“I shouldn’t have made that flippant remark,” De León told KCAL-TV Channel 9.

“The comment was directed more towards Nury Martinez and her penchant for having luxury accessories and luxury goods. It was a joke towards her and not towards Mike Bonin’s family. But nonetheless, I apologize to Mike Bonin’s family, profusely,” De León said.”

De León, 55, has two years left in his City Council term to represent the 14th Council District, which includes downtown, Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock and other Eastside neighborhoods.

Hugo Garcia, a community activist who lives in El Sereno, said he was just learning Wednesday afternoon of De León’s announcement that he would not step down.

“It’s good that he comes out and states what his intention is,” Garcia said, adding that both supporters and those calling for him to resign want to know what he plans to do.

De León’s interview will air tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Noticiero Univision and on at 7 p.m.

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