It started as a dispute over the use of the n-word during public comments to the Los Angeles City Council. On Friday, it escalated into a debate over whether people should be allowed to wear masks while testifying before the council. In both instances, the debates were prompted by City Hall gadflies who scrutinize the council and testify about everything from their protest rights to special permit waivers awarded by the council. This time, however, instead of moving to adopt an outright ban, the council decided to seek a legal opinion on whether the city can ban masks during council meetings. Since then, Hunt and several others, including Matt Down – who wore a bandanna at one meeting last week and demanded to be called “Joe Public” – and Zuma Dogg have become City Hall regulars testifying on a number of items. “I think they are going to find themselves back in court,” Hunt said. “The reason I was present in a KKK uniform was because it was the only way to get them to pay attention.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champCouncilman Jack Weiss, who introduced the proposal, said he introduced the ban after one of the gadflies, Michael Hunt, appeared at a recent council meeting wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume. Hunt, who is African-American, also prompted the council to seek to ban the use of the n-word – a move rejected by the courts as being protected by the First Amendment. “I don’t want to take away anyone’s free speech rights. I’m a big believer in free speech,” Weiss said. “But I also don’t think we should let people parade around in a KKK outfit. I understand First Amendment issues better than anyone, but this is offensive.” Weiss said he asked for the legal opinion on the issue out of concern the city might not be able to uphold a ban on masks. He also said he wants to explore other issues, such as infringement on religious practices. Hunt said he donned the KKK outfit and used the n-word to protest the way the city has treated him. A former vendor on Venice Beach, Hunt was ousted from his spot amid city efforts to control some activities along the boardwalk area.
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