L.A. City Hall critic faces charge of possessing an assault weapon

An Encino attorney who was accused last year of making racist threats against Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson now faces a criminal charge for illegally possessing an assault weapon, the city attorney’s office said Wednesday.

Wayne Spindler, who frequently appears at City Council meetings, was arrested last year after turning in a public comment card that included drawings of a burning cross, a stick figure hanging from a tree, and a sign labeling Wesson with a racial slur.

Wesson, who is African American, described the card as a threatening reminder of the history of racist attacks on the black community. Spindler said that his drawings were satirical, arguing that images such as the hanging person symbolized the Department of Water and Power "lynching" Angelenos with high rates.

Prosecutors in the district attorney’s office ultimately declined to file charges against Spindler, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to prove his comment card was a threat. But city lawyers obtained a restraining order that barred Spindler from coming near Wesson’s home, vehicle or city office.

That restraining order also required Spindler to surrender his firearms. Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer, said in a statement that Spindler had turned in three handguns and an AK 47 assault rifle — a weapon that is “illegal for unregistered possession in the state of California since 1991.”

Spindler was charged with a misdemeanor and is scheduled to be arraigned in April, Wilcox said.

Spindler did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon. He filed a federal lawsuit against the city in January alleging that his free speech and other constitutional rights had been violated, calling the arrest and restraining order “a bogus attempt as a free speech suppressant.”

In that lawsuit, he also said that his “guns and all ammo were taken and destroyed by the malicious actions” of city officials.

emily.alpert@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesEmily

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