Activist sues L.A. over fight with Kevin de León, saying toy giveaway needed more security

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 09: Los Angeles City Council regular, Jason Reedy, gives the councilmembers an earful during a recent meeting. Photographed at City Hall on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Activist Jason Reedy testifies on Dec. 9, 2022, at Los Angeles City Hall, hours before he and Councilmember Kevin de León got into a physical altercation at a holiday toy giveaway. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

An anti-police activist who was involved in a physical altercation with Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin De León at a holiday toy giveaway has filed a lawsuit against De León and the city, saying the event did not have sufficient security to protect the public.

Jason Reedy, a self-described abolitionist who has called for the defunding and abolition of police, said in his lawsuit that De León engaged in battery at the event, grabbing him, pushing him and hitting him during a confrontation between the two men.

Reedy also accused the city of negligence, saying officials should have foreseen that protesters would show up at the Christmas tree lighting, which took place two months after De León was heard on a leaked recording engaged in a conversation that featured racist and derogatory remarks.

Dermot Givens, Reedy's lawyer, said city officials have repeatedly made sure that police are on hand at protests and at council meetings. That was not the case at the toy giveaway, he said.

"They should have had the LAPD like they normally have," Givens said. "They should have had sufficient security to protect everyone."

Read more: 'Little kids were starting to cry': Inside the Kevin de León fight at Christmas gift giveaway

Reedy's lawsuit stems from an incident that took place Dec. 9 at a recreation center in Lincoln Heights, where De León, wearing a Santa hat, handed out gifts, and parents took photos of their kids' performances.

Reedy and other activists interrupted the event, calling De León racist, demanding that he resign and following him through the facility. One witness said at the time that De León tried to walk away but activists kept "getting in his face." As he tried to leave, children in the room had begun to cry, the witness said.

De León tried to exit through a doorway, but Reedy followed him, standing nose-to-nose with him as other activists attempted to get into the back room, according to video posted of the event. De León then shoved Reedy into a table, then pushed him into a corridor.

Reedy responded by punching De León at least once, according to at least one witness.

Both men filed police reports, saying they had been attacked by the other. Neither was charged.

An aide to City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto declined to comment on the lawsuit. De León, in an interview, accused Reedy of being the aggressor. He also called him a hypocrite for demanding an increased police presence.

"This just shows the hypocrisy of these so-called activists that are seeking a quick dollar at the expense of taxpayers," De León said.

Reedy's filing says that a prayer for damages, including punitive damages, would be proved at trial. Givens, his lawyer, said Reedy has not made a financial demand.

Read more: Kevin de León and activist won't be charged over their fight. Here's why neither is happy

"There's no ask for money in this suit," he said. "If the city attorney wants to get with Mr De León and have Mr. De León issue an apology, we could probably settle this case."

Reedy has been heavily involved with the People's City Council, whose members have taken part in demonstrations at council meetings, news conferences and the homes of city elected officials. In the wake of the audio leak, they and others went to council members' homes to demand that council meetings be canceled until De León resigned.

De León apologized for his participation in the audio but refused to step down. He is now running for a second term in his district, which stretches from downtown to Eagle Rock and El Sereno. So far, a dozen people have submitted paperwork to run against him.

Givens, asked about De León's accusation of hypocrisy, noted that Reedy is a city resident whose taxpayer money has gone to pay for the LAPD. At this point, he said, the police have not been abolished.

"While they're there, [Reedy] wants them to do their damn job," Givens said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.