L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, who said he was “tempted” to “clock” a commenter who gave a Nazi salute and called out “Heil Hitler” during the April 10 City Council meeting, is now expressing regret over his response.
Koretz, who describes himself as a mild-mannered guy, told The Journal that his statement was made out of anger.
“I perhaps shouldn’t have said that I felt like going over and punching the guy,” he said during an interview on Wednesday.
Michael Carreon, a frequent attendee at L.A. City Council meetings, was arguing with City Councilman Tom LaBonge, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting, about his ability to address individual councilmembers during the public comment session when he ended his heated comments with the Nazi salute.
“I’m very tempted to go over there and clock him,” Koretz said in response.
Koretz, who is Jewish and lost relatives during the Holocaust, said the matter is serious, but he doesn’t believe Carreron was trying to be anti-Semitic. “I don’t think he realized how insensitive it was,” he said.
Carreon is “one of the regulars” at the weekly City Council meetings, Koretz said, adding that Tuesday’s incident reflects a growing trend at City Council meetings — a more circus-like atmosphere during public sessions.
The fact that the meetings are televised leads to some of these outrageous antics, he said.
“There are a number of people who come just to try and disrupt the meeting.… We now spend so much time listening to folks who are just there for their own entertainment,” he said.
After the initial incident, Carreon returned to the podium during the meeting and offered for him and Koretz to take their problem outside, which led Councilman Richard Alarcon to come to Koretz’s defense, according to the L.A. Times.
“Mr. Koretz did not in any way, shape or form threaten Mr. Carreon. What he said is he ‘felt’ like [punching him] … He’s entitled to his emotions under the civil liberties of this country,” Alarcon reportedly said during the meeting.
Since Caerron’s comments fall under “protected speech,” he was permitted to stay for the remainder of the meeting, Koretz said.
Koretz emphasized the need for the L.A. City Council to address the larger problem of commentators who are disruptive for the sake of being disruptive.
“We can’t just constantly have people shouting obscenities and doing things to distract from the business at hand,” he said.