Kevin de Léon postpones ‘Wakanda’ screening after riots

Hours after the screening of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” was announced, Los Angeles Council member Kevin de Léon postponed the event due to “rainy weather.”

De Léon, who was previously recorded taking part in a racist conversation in which fellow council members made disparaging comments about Black people, had posted on Monday evening that he would host the screening on Tuesday. He quickly changed his mind, apparently unaware that criticism was starting online.

“Due to the next heavy storm and continued rainy weather, we have decided to reschedule the screening of Wakanda Forever to another date,” De Léon wrote on Facebook. “Everyone’s safety is our number one concern, and we believe postponing the event is the best decision at this time.”

Five people had RSVP’d to the event on Facebook by the time the screening was rescheduled, but many others online questioned the council member’s decision to host the film.

“LA City Council member Kevin de León – who was recorded having a racist conversation with other former City Council members saying they intended to disenfranchise Black LA residents – will be screening Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on February 28,” Knock LA reporter Jon Peltz. tweeted Monday afternoon.

“Can’t decide if it’s funnier KDL pushed this event on the last day of Black History month or if he thinks screening a Marvel movie will cure his racism against Black Angelenos,” one user write in response to Peltz’s tweet.

In 2018, “Black Panther” became the first Marvel Studios film with a Black director (Ryan Coogler) and a predominantly Black cast. He was praised for putting a stoic black superhero (played by the late Chadwick Boseman) front and center in the Utopian African city called Wakanda.

Its sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” from 2022 – which has won many awards, especially for star Angela Bassett – followed the leaders of Wakanda as they fight to protect their territory from an opportunistic rival.

Pete Brown, a representative for De Léon, told The Times on Monday that the idea for the “Wakanda Forever” screening came in January. The council member wanted to hold an event to “raise awareness for children, especially in Black and Brown communities”. Brown said he didn’t see the backlash on Twitter, and reiterated plans to reschedule when the weather improves.

“We always get those voices about that,” he said of the criticism that De Léon has provoked.

In October, an anonymous Reddit user leaked a hilarious conversation between De Léon, former council president Nury Martinez, former council member Gil Cedillo and former Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.

In that conversation, held in October 2021, De Léon called former council member Mike Bonin the council’s “fourth Black member” and accused Bonin of treating his adopted son, who is Black, the way Martinez treated him their luxury handbags.

De Léon called his previous comments “completely inappropriate,” and resisted calls for the resignation of his fellow council members as protesters disrupted several council meetings. He is the only member who participated in the conversation who has not resigned or been terminated.

A petition to recall De Léon, criticized in October, was cleared to start collecting signatures in December.

A representative from Disney, which hosts “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” on its Disney+ streaming service, did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

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