Lawyer Arrested After Drawing Racist Cartoon Aimed at City Leader

Herb Wesson
Herb Wesson

UPDATE at 2:51 p.m. Thursday, May 19, 2016: A coalition of civil rights groups wants the District Attorney to file a hate-crime case against the suspect. See details below. First posted at 6:02 a.m., Thursday, May 19, 2016.

A white lawyer was arrested after making a racist threat to African-American Los Angeles City Council president Herb Wesson.

A speaker card submitted by 46-year-old Wayne Spindler during a council meeting last week depicts a figure hanging from a tree. It also uses a racial epithet, with a Ku Klux Klan–style cartoon character in a hood, holding a sign that says, "Herb = N——-."

Spindler was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats, police said.

Danny J. Bakewell Jr. of the Los Angeles Sentinel reported that Spindler is a council regular who has appeared in Klan-style garb and in clothing with swastikas. 

"Criticism comes with the job, and I can usually blow it off as part of the job," Wesson told the publication. "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."

The Sentinel's publisher, Danny Bakewell Sr., called the incident a hate crime. Other council members alleged that Spindler was frequently sexist and profane.

The arrest happened at Friday's council meeting. The attorney was released at 10:09 that night based on a bail amount of $75,000, according to Sheriff's inmate records.

Spindler's law practice is based in Encino, according to the State Bar of California. On the speaker's card, which also includes a depiction of a burning cross, he identifies himself as "Wayne From Encino."

UPDATE at 2:51 p.m. Thursday, May 19, 2016: A coalition of local civil rights groups is urging Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to file a hate-crime case against Spindler.

Those organizations include Project Islamic Hope and the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable. They scheduled a news conference tomorrow to discuss the matter.

"Councilmember Wesson or any citizen should be threatened with racial harassment and terrorist threats," Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope and Earl Ofari Hutchinson of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable said in a joint statement. "D.A. Lacey should file hate crime charges to send a strong and clear message that racism and racially charged threats against anyone won't be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

At a press conference today Wesson indicated he's regulate hateful speech more during council meeting. He "will not stand idly by and allow these types of things to occur without engaging in a conversation," he said.

"You don't threaten a black man that way,'' Wesson said. ``In fact, you don't threaten anyone in this country that way. I take these types of threats seriously.''

-With reporting from City News Service

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