The City of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $215,000 to settle a free-speech lawsuit brought by a Venice boardwalk vendor who was booted from of a public meeting because he wore a Ku Klux Klan hood, and a t-shirt that displayed the n-word.
Lawmakers voted unanimously Wednesday to settle the lawsuit with Venice resident Michael Hunt, who said city leaders had violated his constitutional rights by ejecting him from a session of the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners in 2011. Hunt, who is black, attended the meeting while wearing both the KKK hood and a T-shirt that featured a profanity and a racial slur used to describe African Americans. At the 2011 meeting, then-commission president Barry Sanders told Hunt his outfit violated the city's rules of decorum and said Hunt would be ejected if he did not remove the KKK headgear and "offensive signage." Hunt was later escorted out by officers and received a citation saying he had disturbed a public assembly, according to his lawsuit.
The city declined to prosecute and the citation was dismissed. But Hunt, a vendor on the Venice Boardwalk, said he had been wrongfully arrested and accused the city of violating his rights to free speech, assembly and due process by preventing him from speaking at the meeting.
Mr. Hunt is known around Venice as one of the more litigious members of the community, and has reportedly violently attacked other vendors in the past.