A City Hall gadfly who was arrested after submitting a comment card containing Ku Klux Klan imagery during a meeting chaired by a black councilman said Wednesday he has filed two claims against the city alleging $775,000 in damages.
Wayne Spindler, 46, said accusations by public officials and others that he is racist has "destroyed" his life and hurt his business as an immigration attorney.
"They branded me a racist and scared the hell out of the judges and clients," Spindler told City News Service, adding that he is "an emotional wreck" and unable to get more than three hours of sleep each night.
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Spindler filed the claims last month. In one, he alleges that during a committee hearing on May 11, Council President Herb Wesson "tossed me out of a meeting because he threatened and held me in a false light, retaliating for public speech." The second claim alleges that on May 13, he was falsely arrested, required to post an excessive bond amount and illegally detained.
In the first claim, Spindler is alleging $25,000 in damages for First Amendment and Brown Act violations. For the false arrest claim, Spindler is demanding $750,000 for having to post $75,000 bond to be released from jail and "to be able to attend public meetings," even though detectives had said the bond should be $50,000.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney's Office, said Spindler's claims ``are under review.'' He said Spindler has filed a total of 14 claims with the city.
Spindler told City News Service if his claims are rejected, he may file a lawsuit.
Police arrested Spindler last month on suspicion of making criminal threats against Wesson using a public comment request card. No charges have been filed.
The comment card that prompted Spindler's arrest features images of a burning cross and a person hanging from a tree by a noose. At the center of the card is 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)."
Wesson last month called a news conference to denounce the imagery and language, saying, "You don't threaten a black man that way."
Wesson contends the person who submitted the comment 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 has since obtained a temporary restraining order against Spindler.
The order requires Spindler to stay at least 10 yards away from Wesson during council and committee meetings. Spindler can still attend the meetings and give public comment in a peaceful and orderly way.
Other restrictions require Spindler to keep away from Wesson's home, vehicle and offices. He was also required to give up possession of any firearms, guns or ammunition within 24 hours of the order.
In a court document that shows "proof of firearms turned in or sold," Spindler listed ammunition and four guns, including an AK-47, with the guns surrendered to law enforcement at 3 p.m. May 20.
A detective with the Los Angeles Police Department's threat management unit said the gun unit is conducting an investigation into the weapons, and are looking into their origins.
City Council members have struggled to contain language that is derogatory to specific groups, because such commentary is permitted at public meetings under free speech and public meeting laws. Two years ago, the city paid $215,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a man ejected from Recreation and Parks Commission meeting for wearing a KKK hood.