City controller candidate Rob Wilcox attacked outside City Hall

Los Angeles City Hall
Rob Wilcox, a candidate for city controller and a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said the attack took place as he was walking near 1st and Los Angeles streets.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

Rob Wilcox, a candidate for city controller and a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney’s office, was the target of an unprovoked attack near City Hall on Friday, he said.

Wilcox said he was walking near 1st and Los Angeles streets about noon when an “extremely agitated and angry” man approached him and began shouting. The man started shoving him and called him a slur, Wilcox said.

Wilcox said he ran into the street and tried to flag down a car, but no one would stop. The man followed him into the street and continued to shove him, Wilcox said.


At one point, the man kicked Wilcox in the shin, Wilcox said.

Unable to stop the man, Wilcox said he ran to the Joy Picus Child Development Center, a child-care center housed in a city facility named after the former San Fernando Valley councilwoman.

Voters are angrier than ever about homelessness and aren’t confident elected officials can adequately address the crisis, a survey of focus groups finds.

Wilcox banged on the door of the facility and yelled, “Help me, help me!” but no one came, he said. The man, who followed Wilcox, had him “hemmed in,” Wilcox said. Wilcox then ran toward a City Hall parking garage, but the man didn’t come after him, he said.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said he did not have information about the incident.

In an email Friday afternoon to staff at the city attorney’s office, Chief of Staff Kathleen Kenealy told employees to avoid going outside City Hall alone.

“The individual attacker was not apprehended and may still be in the area,” Kenealy wrote. “We have reported the incident to LAPD, and we will step up our efforts to insist that LAPD and [General Services Department] find solutions to better protect our staff as they come and go from our offices.”

The City Hall area has become increasingly bleak in recent years as more people live in tents and other makeshift homes on the streets near the government buildings. It’s common to see individuals wandering barefoot or exhibiting other forms of physical or mental distress.

In 2019, the LAPD assigned officers to the Civic Center after city employees told authorities they did not feel safe entering and leaving buildings and retail shops because of the increase in tents.

Aggravated assaults are up 15% this year compared with the same period in 2021 in the area that includes the Civic Center and nearby neighborhoods, according to police data. Violent crime has jumped sharply in L.A., with much of the violence taking place in poor communities and among vulnerable populations, such as the homeless.