In a showing of community support Los Angeles Sentinel Executive Publisher and Brotherhood Crusade Board Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr., brought together leaders from an array of community organizations in support of Council President Herb Wesson who has been a victim of hate crimes and terrorist threats by local attorney Wayne Spindler.
The coalition included the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, The Los Angeles NAACP, The Los Angeles Urban League, Beth Shirr Shalom Temple, the Islamic Shure Council, Unite Here, National Action Network and New Frontier Democratic Club as well as individuals from various aspects of the community.
On May 11, Spindler, a licensed attorney, was arrested, and later released on $75,000 bail by Los Angeles Police Department on charges associated with graphic drawings and comments passed to Wesson during a Rules, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations and Neighborhoods Meeting with a drawing of a man (presumed to be Mr. Wesson) being hung by a tree and a Ku Klux Klan member celebrating beside a burning cross.
Spindler has also targeted other members of the City Council, including the only sitting woman, Nury Martinez. At a recent council meeting where the committee recognized “Denim Day” in support of victims of rape, Spindler began to call Martinez a “cunt” and “bitch”, and said that “women deserve it”.
“[Mr. Spindler] creates an abusive, hostile and dangerous environment for community members who try to engage their City Council,” Martinez said.
He has also been known to target Councilman Paul Koretz, wearing anti-sematic attire, including a swastika and giving the German Nazi Hitler Salute.
Danny Bakewell, Sr. and community leaders are demanding the District Attorney’s office to launch a full investigation and prosecute Spindler, for hate crimes and terrorist threats, as well as an ethics review by the State Bar Association. “Not only are these attacks and threats harmful to Council President Wesson, his colleagues and his family” says Bakewell, “but an insult to the institution that is the Los Angeles City Council and the Office of the Council President…and we encourage the D.A.’s office to prosecute Mr. Spindler to the full extent the law will allow.”
The coalition is also asking that the California State Bar Association revoke Spindler’s license to practice law. “The California State Bar has a very high ethics and morality standard and based upon Mr. Spindler’s word and action we believe he clearly does not meet the standard” stated Charisse Bremond-Weaver, president of the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade.
“These racist and hateful incidents offer several lessons. Firstly, aggressive racist hate speech should not be tolerated under the cover and claim of free speech and should be morally condemned and legally restrained. Secondly, this is not an isolated act or a unique attack by a rogue offender from an otherwise accepting society. Rather, it is a reflection and representation of a larger problem in American society—the continuing dangerous, deadly and pervasive practice of racism. And thirdly, it reminds us that the fight for a just, dignity-affirming and difference-respecting society is not finished, that the struggle continues and that we cannot relax our vigilance or walk away from the battlefield until the struggle is actually won.” Stated Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair, Department of Africana Studies, CSU, Long Beach and executive director, the African American Cultural Center.
Spindler told KABC Channel 7 this week that his comments and drawings were misinterpreted. “The cross burning is the city burning down from corruption,” Spindler said. “The hood is City Hall coming after us for our money and the tree is me and everybody getting lynched as taxpayers.”
Bakewell Sr. said, “Mr. Spindler’s is full of shit, but that’s what cowards do they run from the truth when confronted with the truth. He thought that he could continuously threaten Council President Wesson and the other members of the Council with his negative racist and sexist remarks with no repercussions. He has tried to paint this under the guise of free speech, but this is not free speech, this is “Hate Speech” and is clearly not protected by the 1st Amendment. We are going to send a message to Mr. Spindler and those who operate under the same vail of racism that this is not okay. Making light of lynching’s, using swastikas or calling women “Cunts and Bitches” has no place in a public forum and we are demanding that the District Attorney’s office and the California State Bar deal with him accordingly. This is a desecration and an insult to our families to our history and those who have come before us and sacrificed their lives in the name of doing what is right and we will not just sit quietly and accept this behavior as the norm”
Wesson got a restraining order last Friday requiring Spindler to remain at least 200 feet away from him, but it did not restrict Spindler from making public comments at any city council meeting. “ The council president felt threatened, he wants to keep his family safe, his staff safe, and the public safe,” Vanessa Rodriguez Press Deputy for Wesson said.
Former State Assemblymember Mike Davis who now serves as president of New Frontier Democratic Club said in a statement “NFDC stands strongly in support of the city’s first African American City Council President, Councilman Herb Wesson. We know he represents all of Los Angeles. We hope Mr. Wayne Spindler will spend his time engaging in activities which help bring people together, not activities which are divisive. We look forward to inclusion of African Americans, Jewish Americas, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, and others to join our Caucasian Americans in sharing leadership in Los Angeles and throughout this country.” This appears to be the sentiment of most who have found Spindler’s tactics, words and actions to be completely out of line and an insult to communities of color everywhere.