L.A. City Council president gets restraining order against man accused of racist threat

The Encino-based attorney accused of making a racist threat against Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson is now barred from coming near his home, vehicle or city office.

Wesson obtained a temporary restraining order Thursday against Wayne Spindler, who had turned in a public comment card that included a racial epithet directed at Wesson and drawings of a burning cross, a person hanging from a tree and a figure resembling a Ku Klux Klansman.

The temporary order allows Spindler to continue to attend City Council meetings, but requires him to stay at least 10 yards away from Wesson while on city property and two yards away from his City Hall office. 

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Spindler is also prohibited from coming within 100 yards of Wesson's home and must keep his distance -- at least 10 yards -- from the councilman's car and his district office on Western Avenue. But the 46-year-old can continue to contact Wesson in writing or through emails or phone calls, according to the order.

Spindler, a frequent presence at City Hall, was arrested last week and booked on a felony count of making a criminal threat. The arrest stemmed from a comment card he turned in at a committee meeting two days earlier.

Wesson made clear at a news conference Thursday that he saw the comment card as a potential threat to his family, city workers and City Hall visitors. Wesson said the card also brought to mind horrific stories recounted by his grandparents of "liquored-up Klansmen running through the South terrorizing black people."

“It is not OK to do that to me,” said Wesson, the first black president of the City Council. “It is not OK to do that to us in the year 2016. And when I’m talking about us, I’m talking about all of us -- white, yellow, black and brown.”

Spindler has denied threatening Wesson, arguing that his drawing was a kind of satire akin to the controversial French publication Charlie Hebdo. 

In an interview, Spindler said the burning cross was a way of showing how L.A. is "burning down with corruption," while the stick figure hanging from the tree alluded to how Department of Water and Power customers were "getting lynched" with a rate hike. He contended that he was arrested to warn other City Hall critics that “this is what you get when you go against us."

Prosecutors have been evaluating whether to file charges against Spindler. Najee Ali, a local activist and director of Project Islamic Hope, has called for Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to lodge hate crime charges against him. Others have called for his law license to be revoked.

A court hearing is scheduled for June 10 on whether to impose a more permanent restraining order against Spindler. The temporary order that Wesson obtained Thursday is slated to expire at the end of that hearing.

Times staff writers David Zahniser and Matthew Hamilton contributed to this report.

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emily.alpert@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter at @LATimesEmily

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