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No Charges For L.A. Council Critic Who Penned Racist, Threatening Note

herb_wesson_6.jpg
Herb Wesson. (Photo by Ken James/Getty Images)
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The L.A. County district attorney’s office has announced that it won’t be pressing charges against Wayne Spindler, who’d addressed a racist and threatening note to councilmember Herb Wesson during a city council meeting earlier this year, reports the L.A. Times.

During a May 11 council meeting, Spindler submitted a public comment card that was filled words and drawings that ranged from the taunting, to the racist, to the outright threatening. The notes were directed at Wesson, who is African-American. The card contained items such as “F-U Herb,” “Herb=N—,” as well as drawings that depict a burning cross, a figure in a Ku Klux Klan hood, and a person hanging from a noose that’s tied to a tree. And, if there was any confusion as to who wrote the note, the card was signed "Wayne from ENCINO.” Wesson, after receiving the card, requested officers at the meeting to escort Spindler out. It was unclear if Spindler, a licensed attorney, ended up staying or if he’d left.

“[The] often harassing and threatening comments made by Mr. Spindler have become increasingly worse over time,” Wesson told the Los Angeles Sentinel back in May. “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.”

Since then, there has been debate about what constitutes a viable threat on Spindler's part. On one hand, a judge had issued a restraining order against Spindler, forcing him to stay 100 feet away from Wesson, with the exception of council meetings, reports an earlier Times article. On the other hand, when officials requested that the State Bar discipline Spindler (and maybe even have him disbarred), the State Bar said that it wasn’t planning on doing anything about Spindler, as he hadn’t technically been charged with a crime. A State Bar official wrote a letter that said, “[We] cannot bring disciplinary charges against him for exercising his right to free speech.” And now, the county district attorney’s office has echoed that sentiment, saying in a memo that they couldn’t prove that Spindler’s actions amounted to a “punishable 'true threat.’” The office did note, however, that the notes were "deeply offensive, morally wrong and socially reprehensible.”

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Spindler, it should be noted, has done much more than write a single, threatening note to Wesson. He’s been known to show up to council meetings in a KKK hood, as well as giving the Nazi salute. “Who knows what this guy will do?” Danny Bakewell Sr., the executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel, told the Times. “What he has done already, dressing up with KKK garb, sending people notes... with a black man hanging from a noose, how would you trust that person’s judgment under any circumstances?”

Here's an image of the public comment card that Spindler had submitted in May. Warning: some readers may find the image below disturbing.

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The public-comment card filled out by Wayne Spindler. (City Clerk's Office)