L.A. Democratic City Councilman Faces Backlash Over Botched Pledge Of Allegiance

Turns viral moment into push for donations for illegal immigrants
California Democratic State Senator, Kevin De Leon, speaks at the March for Science in Los Angeles, California on April 14, 2018.
PRonen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A powerful Los Angeles Democrat who was once among the highest-ranking members of the California Legislature is facing criticism after botching the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Times reports, “City Councilman Kevin de León had been asked by City Council President Nury Martinez to lead his colleagues in the Pledge of Allegiance, which is recited by council members each Tuesday during their Zoom meetings. The delivery was far from smooth.”

De León nailed the first line, but it went downhill from there.

After an awkward pause, he mumbled “undervisible” and then began again.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,” de León repeated on his second attempt.

After another long pause, de León skipped over four words and picked up with, “For which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

According to the L.A. Times, “Once it was over, someone at the meeting could be heard uttering ‘Oof.'”

More from The Times:

The video of de León’s struggle quickly drew attention on Twitter, where it was uploaded by Rob Pyers, research director for the nonpartisan California Target Book. It quickly racked up tens of thousands of views and some salty commentary.

Some on Twitter called the performance a disgrace, arguing that the pledge is a basic part of civics, and used the moment to bash California politicians. Others described De León’s flubs as relatable or argued that — in a city contending with homelessness, COVID-19 and other crises — the moment was unimportant.

“I wish all of city council’s failures were this funny and inconsequential,” wrote Mike Dickerson, an activist on homelessness and other issues.

Pete Brown, a spokesman for de León, told The Times the councilman knows the words of the pledge but has “a lot on his plate” and had experienced problems with his computer during Tuesday’s meeting.

“He just stumbled, and showed he was human,” Brown said. “We’ve all forgotten lyrics to songs we’ve sun a hundred thousand times.”

“Sadly, there’s thousands of kids in his district who are doing the pledge and they’re at risk of being homeless,” Brown continued. “He’s thinking about that.”

On Tuesday evening, Councilman de León appeared to make light of the situation on social media, tweeting an image of the cartoon character Bart Simpson writing the Pledge of Allegiance on a blackboard over and over. He took the opportunity to solicit donations to a nonprofit “to provide food security for undocumented immigrants.”

“Embarrassing, am I right?” he tweeted. “If you or someone you know got a good laugh out of my own ‘unique’ version of the pledge of allegiance (sic), consider donated a few $$ to They’re doing amazing work in CD 14 to provide food security for undocumented immigrants.”

De León was elected to the city council in a special election last year and represents a district with a large Latino population. His predecessor, Jose Huizar, was arrested and charged in a 34-count indictment that alleged a conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Huizar is accused of agreeing to accept at least $1.5 million in illicit financial benefits.

Previously, de León served in the state Legislature where he became the Senate’s highest-ranking member, President pro Tempore, in 2014. At the swearing-in ceremony, de León asked, “Isn’t it time we shatter the great American myth about pulling oneself up by the bootstraps? It’s a fantasy. It’s simply not true. We all need help.”

“Reliance is not something of shame. It is the American Way.”

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