The Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution Friday condemning black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan for sowing “the seeds of hatred” and promoting “racism and anti-Semitism.”
The council resolution called Farrakhan’s planned speech tonight in Inglewood a cause of concern for the entire community and urged the Nation of Islam leader to refrain from repeating any “anti-Semitic, anti-American, hate-filled remarks.”
Only Councilman Robert Farrell refused to join in condemning Farrakhan, who, amid the continuing controversy, abruptly canceled radio and television appearances that had been set for Friday.
Farrakhan, whose appearance at the Forum had caused a rift between leaders in the black and Jewish communities, has been sharply criticized for his past assertions that Judaism is “a dirty religion” and for a more recent statement referring to the “wickedness of the Jews.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Tom Bradley refused to comment on the situation Friday when pressed by reporters at a press conference called to promote the Los Angeles Street Scene Festival.
He said only that he would not comment until a news conference Sunday. Bradley had scheduled a news conference for today but switched it because of a pledge made to black community leaders not to comment until after the black Muslim leader spoke in Los Angeles tonight.
Jewish leaders have criticized Bradley for his failure to repudiate the Muslim minister and his anti-Semitic message, but they appeared Friday to be adopting a more conciliatory tone.
For example, Marshall Grossman of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles praised Bradley for “many years of compassion in the area of race relations and human relations.” He said Jews will wait “courteously” in the expectation that Bradley will “unconditionally and unreservedly condemn” Farrakhan.
Grossman’s stance differed markedly from accounts given The Times on the position he took at a private meeting Monday between black and Jewish community leaders to discuss Bradley’s reluctance to speak out.
At that meeting, Grossman said that if Bradley did not repudiate Farrakhan, “then he can forget it,” according to Danny Bakewell, president of the Brotherhood Crusade and Bishop H. H. Brookins, a black community leader and longtime confidant of the mayor.
“That was not a welcome remark,” Brookins said. “It was very arrogant, very intimidating and the clear implication to everyone in the room was ‘he can forget our political support for governor,’ although I don’t feel that was the sentiment of all Jewish leaders in the room.”
Grossman disputed that version of what he had said.
“I did say as a longtime supporter of the mayor, that I felt he was making a political mistake and felt he would lose political support if he failed to do that,” Grossman said. “I did not say he would lose the Jewish vote. I felt it would cost him political support across the board.”
In another development, members of the Jewish Defense League began an all-night vigil Friday in front of Bradley’s Hancock Park home in the hope of forcing the mayor to take a stand before Farrakhan’s speech. Los Angeles police said six people were picketing the home Friday night, but the mayor was not there.
In repudiating Farrakhan’s remarks, council members, most of whom had signed a full-page newspaper advertisement critical of the black Muslim leader, accused Farrakhan of pushing a brand of “racial and religious hatred” in his talks.
Referring to a tape-recording of a recent Farrakhan speech in Washington, which he said he had heard, Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, a Jew, said it smacked of Nazism and underscored the need for local officials not to remain silent while Farrakhan speaks to his legion of followers.
‘Cheering His Statements’
“Fifteen thousand people in Washington (were) cheering his statements on ‘the wickedness of the Jews,’ ” Yaroslavsky said, shaking his head. “It could not have sounded better in its original German.”
Other council members, while emphasizing that they were not trying to prevent Farrakhan from speaking, said they also could not stand by idly while he visits the Southland.
Councilman David Cunningham, who also signed the anti-Farrakhan newspaper ad and is black, said the Muslim leader has been a divisive element while operating under the guise of merely trying to help the black community.
“I am not going to give anyone aid and comfort or succor for anything that they want to say that attempts to set us apart, whatever cover they may want to say it (under),” Cunningham said in reference to Farrakhan’s criticisms of Jews and the U.S. government.
Farrell, who is black and opposed the resolution, agreed that Farrakhan’s remarks are “reprehensible.” However, he said the resolution was unnecessary, especially since Farrakhan’s view that blacks are saddled with “deferred dreams” and economic misery in America is shared by many black Americans.
At one point, the lingering tension between the black and Jewish communities over the Farrakhan issue flared in the council chambers when Farrell said some black leaders feel that they have been pressured by their Jewish counterparts to publicly condemn the Muslim leader.
Yaroslavsky, who represents a heavily Jewish area, told his colleagues that the issue has caused a rift between the two groups that may be slow to heal.
“I am hurt, perplexed and bothered by the silence, and I will never forget. Members of my community will never forget,” Yaroslavsky said, in an apparent reference to Bradley’s failure to speak out.