City Council OKs Ordinance Designed to Curb Hate Fliers
Michael Manning expected food, not racist propaganda, when he reached into a box of Cheez-Its he had bought at a San Fernando Valley supermarket three months ago and fished out a flier showing a dark-skinned man being machine-gunned to death.
He was doubly angered when he learned there was nothing illegal about that.
Soon there will be.
The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted resoundingly to make it a crime to insert fliers, pictures or other advertising into any product package without permission from store management. Offenders face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The ordinance was introduced by Councilman Joel Wachs, Manning’s council representative, to close what Wachs called a “legal loophole.” It will take effect 30 days after the expected signature of Mayor Richard Riordan.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Manning after the vote.
Cmdr. David J. Kalish of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Group echoed those sentiments.
“The ordinance is very, very helpful to control hate materials,” Kalish said. “Although [Manning’s experience] is not a common occurrence, the impact is quite significant.”
A Glendale man, identified by police and the Anti-Defamation League, has been leaving hate fliers in elementary and high school lockers, newspapers and mailboxes throughout Southern California, according to Tzivia Schwartz, an Anti-Defamation League lawyer.
The man, Allan Eric Carlson, 32, was arrested in 1993 on suspicion of stamping racist messages on notebooks in supermarkets and was ordered in September not to stuff fliers into product packaging. He is in Orange County Jail on suspicion of shooting out the windows of more than 30 luxury cars in Newport Beach last month.
Wachs, Schwartz and Kalish all agreed that the ordinance is aimed in part at halting Carlson’s campaign.
Schwartz said the council action underscores the link between racist rhetoric and violent action.
“The existence of anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, racist and homophobic literature is a reality and is, for the most part, protected by the right of free speech,” Schwartz said. “But at some point, these people cross over a line, where they’re no longer satisfied with using words alone.”
To limit such actions outside Los Angeles, Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) has vowed to lobby for a similar state law.