Waters, activist take years-old feud to new level

Times Staff Writer

Who’s restraining whom?

Earlier this week, longtime community activist Najee Ali got a Superior Court judge to issue a temporary restraining order against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), accusing the congresswoman of threatening him.

Then Waters, not to be outdone, accused Ali of stalking her. And on Thursday, she got the court to issue a temporary restraining order against him.

The dueling orders are the latest chapter in a feud that both sides agree goes back several years. Ali, executive director of Project Islamic Hope, says he traces the hostilities to the 2001 mayoral race, when Ali backed Antonio Villaraigosa and Waters supported James K. Hahn.


The most recent flare-up occurred Oct. 2, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to make a campaign stop to speak with black ministers at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in South Los Angeles.

Waters arrived with 100 protesters and accused the clergy of being sellouts to Schwarzenegger, who never appeared. But Ali, a well-known community gadfly, got into a verbal sparring match with Waters in the church parking lot.

“I was shaking,” Ali said. “I didn’t know what had gotten into her. She ran up to me, yelling at me. She didn’t want me speaking to the media. I said I needed to speak to the governor. It caused me to fear for my safety.”

The congresswoman’s office declined to comment on Ali’s restraining order or, for that matter, on Waters’ own court order, which extends to her son and daughter -- Edward Waters and Karen Waters.

In the court filing, the congresswoman said Ali has “confronted me on several occasions.” She said she believes he is attempting to “set me up” and accused the activist of having a “long history and reputation for confrontation.”

The restraining order also stated that Ali “threatened ‘to get me some day.’ ”

Ali is “attempting to create a situation that will appear to be harassment in order to sue me,” the order said. “He will stalk me. I’m very public.”


Ali said Waters’ charges were “ludicrous ... a big lie.”

A hearing on whether to extend the order against Ali is scheduled Nov. 3. The same issue regarding the Waters order will be heard Nov. 14.