The Villanueva event on Olvera Street ends after protesters confronted Sheriff and Councilman Kevin de León in separate incidents

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva abruptly ended a campaign appearance on Olvera Street in downtown LA on Friday afternoon after he was shouted down by protesters, some of whom later became Councilman Kevin de León nearby confronted.

Villanueva, who is running for re-election as sheriff, was scheduled to speak at the scheduled press conference along with elected officials who support his “efforts to reduce crime and homelessness,” according to a statement from his campaign.

“Olvera Street became a homeless encampment, but under the leadership of Sheriff Villanueva, it was restored in just three weeks using the HOST (Homeless Outreach Services Team) model, securing shelters for the homeless,” the press release reads.

After being preceded by 10 consecutive speakers at a microphone, including former LA District Attorney Steve Cooley, Villanueva began his remarks in Spanish by saying, “Si se puede” or “Yes, it can be done.”

The protesters immediately started shouting, telling the sheriff to pause before saying, “Well, let’s ignore this and keep talking.”

Then one of Villanueva’s supporters picked up the microphone and said, seemingly jokingly, “We asked for five protesters, but they could only bring us three.”

Other supporters then broke into a chant: “Villanueva! Villanueva!” The sheriff’s opponents, however, were undeterred. Some of them tried to approach Villanueva but were blocked by several men. It was unclear whether these men were private security officers or plainclothes LAUSD lawmakers.

After activists screamed for several minutes, Villanueva decided to end the campaign rally when it became clear his remarks would not be heard without interruption.

He later ran into Kevin de León, who apparently happened to be in Olvera Street for another event.

Some of the protesters following Villanueva then turned their attention to the councilman, surrounding him tightly and shouting criticism as he walked towards a waiting car. De León got in the car and was driven away without incident.

No arrests were reported in either incident.

DEVELOPMENT: More details will be added to this report as they become available.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved. The Villanueva event on Olvera Street ends after protesters confronted Sheriff and Councilman Kevin de León in separate incidents

Laura Coffey

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