Being President of the Los Angeles City Council or any public official comes with its share of critics and public criticism, it’s simply part of the job. But, the alleged attacks, threats and plain disrespect for the office and also the man (Herb Wesson) himself have risen to new levels by one alleged protester, Mr. Wayne Spindler.
Spindler, who according to the California State Bar website is a licensed attorney was arrested by Los Angeles Police Department and booked in the LA County Jail May 13 for making comments and presenting notes which could be considered a hate crime during a City Council special Rules Committee meeting held in the valley on May 11. Spindler allegedly passed a speaker card to the city clerk, which contained graphic drawings of a man assumed to be Council President Herb Wesson, being hung, another man celebrating in a Ku Klux Klan mask and a cross burning. According to council members, the antics are a regular habit of Spindler’s who often attends council meetings in Klan costumes and anti-Semitic attire including Nazi Swastikas, giving the salute of the German Nazi in hail to Hitler.
“Criticism comes with the job and I can usually blow it off as part of the job,” said Wesson.
“But the often harassing and threatening comments made by Mr. Spindler have become increasingly worse over time. It has risen to the point that I have serious concerns about my safety, my family’s safety, my staff’s safety and the safety of my colleagues on the city council.”
Spindler has also targeted other Council members. . Councilmembers Curren Price and Marquisse Harris-Dawson both whom are African American said “Mr. Spindler is constantly making racist and degrading remarks not only to Council President Wesson, but to all of the members of the council. Simply put, it is just disrespectful, undeserved and a waste of time, when there are serious issues we as a council need to be addressing.”
At recent meeting during which members were recognizing “Denim Day” in support of women who are victims of rape, Spindler is said to have directed his attacks to Councilwoman Nury Martinez.
“Wayne Spindler uses foul language and swear words in all his public comments,” Martinez said.
“When there are kids attending the Council meeting, he will use the ‘f’ word every-other-word. He gets some sick joy out of traumatizing kids. On a day when the Council recognized Denim Day to fight rape, Mr. Spindler made disgusting and sexist language that promotes rape culture. When Mr. Spindler calls me and other women ‘cunt’ or ‘bitch,’ he is not advancing constructive dialogue. He is abusive and sexist. His only goal seems to be to disrupt meetings and offend everyone in the room.”
Councilmember Paul Koretz who represents the district in which Mr. Spindler lives has also been the subject of his verbal attacks.
“I am quite embarrassed that Wayne Spindler is one of my constituents,” he said.
“He has frequently crossed the line of right and wrong in the past, but in this instance, with his drawing suggestive of a lynching adding the threat of violence to his typical hate speech, I believe he’s crossed over into criminal behavior.”
Executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper and Brotherhood Crusade Chairman Danny Bakewell Sr. called the drawings “outrageous” and unquestionably a hate crime.
“If you paint a swastika on a person’s house that is a hate crime,” he said.
“If you paint a picture of a man hanging from a tree on a house that is a hate crime. It is no less offensive or hateful if you draw it on a piece of paper and then hand those symbols to that person. These acts of hatred and discrimination are becoming all too common today and are reflective of the type of hatred and divisiveness that is not only being spread in Los Angeles but in parts of the National Political Campaign as well. Not only are these attacks and threats harmful to Council President Wesson, his colleagues and his family but this is an insult to the institution that is the Los Angeles City Council and the Office of the Council President. We must remember that these insults are not just made at a man, but are made to the second highest ranking official in the second largest city in country.”
Bakewell said that he and other community leaders plan to encourage District Attorney Jackie Lacey to launch a full investigation and prosecute Spindler “to the max”.
“This is not about freedom of speech, in my opinion and many other community leaders this is a hate crime,” he reiterated.
Spindler was released on $75,000 bail from Los Angeles County jail and as of Sentinel press time no trial date had been set. Community leaders are also encouraging the California State Bar to review Spindler’s actions and revoke his law license for unethical acts by a member. California State Lawmakers are looking into establishing laws that would heighten the crimes of individuals who use public comment forums in public meetings as a bully pulpit to harass and insult members of any legislative body.
“I think what he’s done is… it’s really been a desecration of the institution,” said Councilman Mitch Englander.
“It discourages public participation by others. It impedes the work of the body as a whole and it’s outright hate speech. This is a place and time in this world, in these United States where that’s just not called for anymore…”