An Oregon man who posted anti-black stickers imprinted with swastikas outside a Studio City bank was sentenced Tuesday to 45 days in jail, a sentence the Los Angeles city attorney's office said was meant to "send a message" to perpetrators of crimes involving racial or religious prejudice.
Robert Renney, 25, of Pendleton, Ore., pleaded guilty in Van Nuys Municipal Court to placing handbills on private property without the owner's consent.
Judge Robert L. Swasey also placed Renney on probation for three years, warning him that, if he so much as "spit on public or private property" while on probation, the judge would impose the maximum sentence of six months.
City Atty. James K. Hahn issued a statement that the prosecution was intended "to send a message to people involved in this type of hate-crime activity that we're taking a tough position in our prosecution of such cases."
"This type of vandalism aimed at groups of people because of their racial or ethnic background will not be tolerated in Los Angeles."
Posted Sticker on Bank
Deputy City Atty. George A. Schell said Renney was caught July 18 by police who were staking out the Independence Bank branch in the 12900 block of Ventura Boulevard. Police had received complaints that Nazis and other white supremacists were spray-painting swastikas and offensive messages on the building.
As police watched, Renney went to a wall of the bank and posted a sticker the size of an index card that said, "Niggers get out! Your Slums! Go Back To!" The card included a swastika, the words "White Power" and a symbol for the National Socialists for White America Party, authorities said.
Schell said the bank probably was targeted because it is near a cafe frequented by white-supremacist groups. Schell said he did not know if Renney was affiliated with any Nazi group.
Martin Vranicar, a supervising deputy city attorney, said the content of Renny's handbills "was relevant to our recommendation of sentence."
"We feel the sentence was appropriate, given the type of message he was trying to get across."
Fighting 'Hate Crimes'
Vranicar said he was aware of few other prosecutions for posting hate literature.
Renny's attorney could not be reached for comment.
The sentence came one week after law enforcement officials, meeting with San Fernando Valley religious leaders after four vandalism attacks on Valley synagogues, vowed that "hate crimes" will be dealt with strongly. Robert Vernon, assistant chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, told the group that racially oriented crimes are increasing and that police will give them the same priority as murders and armed robberies.
The city attorney's office noted that a motion is pending in City Council to provide funds for another prosecutor who would specialize in handling "hate crimes."