Protest at City Council Meeting - Photo courtesy of Ringo Chiu on Shutterstock

Minutes after protesters shouted for Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León to leave the chamber when the embattled councilman showed up at Friday’s council meeting, the council voted to receive a report on costs related to any damages in the chamber due to protests since the City Hall racism scandal broke.

The council also sought a report on staffing costs necessary for the Los Angeles Police Department “to maintain decorum,” according to a motion filed by Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez. The vote was 8-3, with Council members Mike Bonin, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Nithya Raman dissenting.

Protesters have regularly shown up at meetings demanding that de León and Councilman Gil Cedillo resign before the city conducts its business. Cedillo’s time on the council ends next week while de León — who left the chamber after protesters began shouting for him to leave on Friday — is in office until 2024.

While the protesters have disrupted nearly every meeting since the leaked recordings surfaced in early October, there is no visible damage in the chamber. The protesters, who usually number no more than a dozen, have resorted to using noisemakers, cowbells and lately mirrors to interrupt the council. In what has become a new routine at the start of council meetings, Council President Paul Krekorian has ordered any disruptors removed from the chamber. LAPD officers assigned to work in the chamber then gather around the ejected protesters, who walk backwards, chanting for resignations and calling the council illegitimate all the way out the door.

“Stop shining that mirror into my eyes and trying to blind me,” Krekorian said on Friday as a protester held a mirror up to reflect into Krekorian’s face. “This is absurd.”

Krekorian reported having “blind spots in my eyes now from where they just shined light into my eyes with that mirror.”

“Any disruption of this meeting of any kind will lead to you being excluded from this meeting,” Krekorian said. “Don’t give me any nonsense about: There’s nothing about mirrors in the rules. Enough is enough.”

Bonin said he had no problem with inquiring about damages, but voted against the motion because it “puts the emphasis in the wrong place.”

“It is making it seem as if the problem is the protesters, and not the cause of the protests,” Bonin said.

Bonin said the problem was “in this room 45 minutes ago,” referring to de León.

“The people protesting are not the ones, nor is Mr. Krekorian the one who is saying, `Let’s send in people in God damn riot gear to deal with people with cowbells,”’ Bonin said. “It just puts the emphasis in the wrong place. The problem was on those tapes. The problem is in this room. The problem is when somebody’s ego refuses to get out of the way of his need to resign. The road to redemption begins with resignation, and that will end the protests.”

Rodriguez, speaking next, said she believes in the right to protest, but would not “endorse individuals destroying city facilities in exercising their voice or opportunities to express their discontent.”

“This is an opportunity to remind everybody that these are facilities,” Rodriguez said. “This is the house of the democratic process, and everyone is allowed to have a voice. But the disruption of our chambers and this institution based on some of the actions that were exhibited, I think is inappropriate.”

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