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.
The StandUp4SEALs Beach Challenge will mark its third year in Ocean City on May 23 with a new name and a broader beneficiary base.A standup paddleboard race is open to individuals or relay teams.The event is now known as the Memorial Beach Challenge and will benefit not just the families of Navy SEALS killed in service but the families of fallen heroes in all branches of the military, according to an event c0-founder, Mike Vaules.Registration is open for the Challenge’s three events: a stand-up paddleboard race, a beach obstacle course race and a fun run for kids.Register and get more information at memorialbeachchallenge.com.In its first two years, the event became a popular part of Ocean City’s Memorial Day Weekend calendar with more than 600 competing in the combined events in each year.Kids climb makeshift sand mounds as part of the fun run in the Memorial Beach Challenge.The Challenge provides a spectacle for visitors watching obstacle-course competitors run through a water-filled pit sprayed by a fire hose, crawl under the Ocean City Music Pier, carry sand-filled sacks, perform calisthenics, traverse balance beams, and climb walls.The stand-up paddleboard race includes a box course that starts and finishes on the beach and takes racers through the surf.This year’s event is set for 8 a.m. Saturday, May 23, on the beaches surrounding the Ocean City Music Pier at Moorlyn Terrace. The bulk of the course will be between Fifth and 14th streets.The Memorial Beach Challenge benefits the Navy SEAL Foundation, the 31 Heroes Project (named for the SEALS killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011) and the Travis Manion Foundation. Manion was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a Marine from Doylestown, Pa., who was killed in action in Iraq on April 29, 2007. One of the obstacles in the annual Beach Challenge is a water-filled pit.