December 29, 2016
By CRAIG CLOUGH
City News Service
A City Hall gadfly arrested after submitting a comment card containing Ku Klux Klan imagery, racial slurs and profanity during a meeting chaired by a black councilman will not be charged with any crimes, the District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday, December 22.
The D.A.’s office cited Wayne Spindler’s First Amendment rights and insufficient evidence that he violated any of the threat statutes as reasons for not filing a criminal case.
“There is no doubt the speaker card contained hateful and extremely outrageous words and imagery that we reject as being deeply offensive, morally wrong and socially reprehensible,” a D.A. charge evaluation worksheet on the case states.
But there was insufficient evidence that Spindler crossed the “somewhat nebulous line between constitutionally protected free speech and punishable ‘true threat,’” the document says.
Spindler, 46, frequently speaks at Los Angeles City Council meetings, is critical of the government, and often holds a puppet while making vulgar comments. He was arrested May 13, two days after a committee meeting was held chaired by Council President Herb Wesson.
The comment card that prompted Spindler’s arrest featured images of a burning cross and a person hanging from a tree by a noose. At the center of the card was a drawing of what appears to be a triangular-shaped person wearing a KKK hood and carrying a noose and a sign that says “Herb=(N-word).”
Vanessa Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Wesson, said he was disappointed by the outcome.
“We disagree with the D.A.’s decision,” she said. “We found the threat to be morally reprehensible. We will continue in our role as public servants.”
Spindler could not be reached for comment.
Wesson called a news conference after the committee meeting to denounce the imagery and language in the comment card, saying, “You don’t threaten a black man that way.”
Wesson contended the person who submitted the card knew it “was going to find its way to the individual who was chairing this meeting, and this card was a message to me.”
Wesson subsequently obtained a restraining order requiring Spindler to stay at least 10 yards away from him during council and committee meetings. Spindler can still attend the meetings and give public comment in a peaceful and orderly way.
Spindler filed two claims in June against the city related to his arrest, alleging $775,000 in damages.