About two dozen supporters of Mayor Tom Bradley rallied at City Hall on Wednesday to praise Bradley as a role model for black children, despite his current problems.
"We have a real hero in Tom Bradley," said Dr. James Mays, a Watts-based physician who helped organize the rally, attended by about a dozen homeless people.
Ted Hayes, a homeless activist who attended the rally, admitted that he has been at odds with Bradley but said the mayor deserves support because of his years of service and obstacles he overcame to become mayor.
"I've probably been the biggest critic of Tom Bradley over the years," Hayes said. "Nonetheless, the mayor is a role model for our children.
"We are saying, 'Young people, if you do like Tom Bradley, work hard day and night for what you want, you will achieve. You don't have to deal drugs. You don't have to carry AK-47s. You don't have to do those kinds of things to be somebody.'
"We do not believe a man should be kicked when he is down," Hayes added. "A homeless man can understand that."
Mays said Bradley is one of the few symbols of success for blacks outside of the entertainment and sports fields. He urged the public to await the outcome of conflict-of-interest investigations of Bradley's financial dealings before judging the mayor.
A homeless man who watched the rally from the City Hall lawn complained that Bradley has not done enough to solve homelessness. He said that homeless people were offered free bologna sandwiches to attend the rally. But organizers said the homeless could have obtained a free meal without participating in the rally.