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LA County gets restraining order against foul-mouthed gadfly

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For Armando Herman, the July 11 L.A. County Board of Supervisors assembly was a typical outing.

He known as an legal professional a “dum dum” and an “Uncle Tom.” During a dialogue on the upcoming Olympics, he accused a supervisor of fostering a Holocaust. He used an expletive 25 occasions, a homosexual slur twice and a racial epithet as soon as. And he did a lot of it with a swastika pinned to his again.

Aside from labeling the diatribes as “off topic,” there was little the supervisors may do to cease Herman, 56, an notorious gadfly at each L.A. metropolis and county conferences. His ugly remarks have been protected by the first Amendment.

“You’re abusing my time,” he responded after one interjection from Board Chair Janice Hahn. “You need to stop that.”

“You’re abusing my ears,” she shot again.

Supervisor Janice Hahn at an L.A. County Board of Supervisors assembly on Oct. 3.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Per week later, county officers accused Herman of crossing a line by sending vulgar, threatening emails to 4 of the 5 members of the all-female board of supervisors. The emails, the officers argued, went past what’s allowable underneath free speech protections. A choose agreed, barring Herman final month from attending board conferences in particular person for 3 years — though he’s nonetheless allowed to talk by telephone.

Herman insists he didn’t ship the emails.

Inflammatory commentators like Herman, who gleefully take pleasure in hate speech, have been a continuing supply of disgust for native public officers. Sometimes, the commentators are pressured to depart conferences after they act disruptively, reminiscent of shouting from the viewers or talking past the time restrict — however the ban doesn’t prolong to future conferences.

In a couple of cases, officers have obtained restraining orders requiring a critic to steer clear of their properties, vehicles and workplaces. In 2019, town of Los Angeles bought three separate restraining orders against Herman after he allegedly threatened Deputy City Attorney Strefan Fauble, Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners Executive President Richard Tefank and City Council President Paul Krekorian.

The metropolis additionally bought a restraining order in 2016 against vocal critic Wayne Spindler after he submitted racially incendiary drawings at a public assembly and labeled then-City Council President Herb Wesson with a racial slur.

In every case, a choose allowed Herman and Spindler to proceed attending public conferences so long as they stayed 10 yards from the general public official.

The latest order against Herman is uncommon in barring him from setting foot contained in the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration — together with throughout the board’s weekly conferences.

In their petitions for momentary restraining orders, filed July 17, Supervisors Holly Mitchell, Hilda Solis, Kathryn Barger and Hahn every stated that they had obtained an e-mail from Herman a couple of days earlier. Each e-mail requested whether or not the supervisor would love the sender to “eat her delicious p— at [address],” together with the supervisor’s house deal with in each the topic line and physique of the message. The emails have been despatched from the deal with “armandoherman@proton.me.”

“l have done my best to tolerate his offensive and vulgar comments and behavior at the public meetings, but his recent email is deeply troubling and an escalation of his behavior that has me concerned for my safety,” Hahn wrote in her petition. “The comments and threats in the email are highly vulgar, deeply offensive, and when coupled with the fact that he tracked down my home address and included it with his comments, I am greatly concerned for my safety.”

The petition from Solis cites different cases by which staffers say they have been harassed by Herman. That harassment culminated in July, staffers say, when Herman despatched the e-mail to Solis and a textual content message to one among her area deputies threatening sexual violence.

Herman, who’s listed in court docket paperwork as a Hacienda Heights resident, denied sending the textual content and emails, writing in a court docket submitting that he had by no means seen the e-mail deal with the place the messages originated. He included a criticism that he stated he despatched to the FBI alleging that he was being arrange. He didn’t specify whether or not he had a suspect in thoughts.

“Someone is attempting to impersonate me with the goal of having sanctions placed on me, stripping me of my constitutional rights of attending board hearings,” he wrote. “I am a known activist with a foul mouth, but I have never sent the messages that they alleged that I sent.”

Herman, who was not represented by an legal professional within the continuing, didn’t reply to a number of requires remark. Asked in a textual content message about his statements that he by no means despatched the emails, he wrote, “Yes , TRUE THEY ARE trying and doing!” however didn’t reply to comply with up messages.

Senior Deputy County Counsel Kent Sommer wrote in a Sept. 7 court docket submitting that the “content, threats and vulgarity” within the emails was “entirely consistent with Mr. Herman’s demonstrated language and conduct” in the direction of the supervisors.

After the court docket granted the county’s request for a brief restraining order, Judge Gary Eto issued a everlasting order on Sept. 14, barring Herman from going inside 100 yards of the 4 supervisors’ properties, workplaces or vehicles.

The everlasting order additionally barred Herman from moving into particular person to any public conferences within the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration for 3 years.

The subsequent assembly he may attend can be Sept. 13, 2026. However, he can nonetheless communicate at conferences throughout phone-in public feedback.

David Loy, authorized director of the First Amendment Coalition, stated that even essentially the most offensive speech spewed in metropolis and county public conferences is taken into account protected speech. However, he stated, these protections don’t prolong to respectable threats.

“He could be a Democrat, Republican, Nazi, Communist — it doesn’t matter what his point of view is,” stated Loy. “What’s relevant is if there’s genuine or true threats to cause harm, unrelated to his politics or ideology.”

Last week, a choose issued an order requiring that Donald Harlan, a frequent speaker at City Council conferences, keep no less than 100 yards away from Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, his house, his workplace and his automotive.

The case stems from a Sept. 8 council assembly the place Blumenfield ordered Harlan eliminated for yelling from the viewers.

After being instructed to depart, Harlan bought up and pointed at Blumenfield, screaming: “Bob, you’re f— dead you f— Jew! I’m going to f— kill all your f— Jewish f— people!”

Harlan, listed in court docket data as a resident of L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood, continues to be allowed to attend council conferences in particular person and communicate, however he should keep no less than 10 yards from Blumenfield. In a authorized declaration, Blumenfield stated Harlan had made different anti-Semitic feedback earlier this yr, throughout a celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month at City Hall.

“These characters who flit in and out …. are mostly there to be disruptive. They enjoy it.” stated Eric Preven, a gadfly whose operating commentary is pointed but civil. “Most of the time you just have to take it.”

Occasionally, nonetheless, the informal use of hate speech has prompted an uproar amongst viewers members.

A uniformed officer confrongt a woman who points toward her and a man raises his arms.

Yvonne Michelle Autry, heart, is ejected from a City Council assembly on Sept. 18, 2018, whereas fellow attendee Armando Herman waves his arms.

(Los Angeles Times)

In August, after Herman uttered an anti-Black slur, an activist with Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles demanded that council members have him ejected from the room. As Herman continued to provide his remarks, viewers members chanted, “Cut his mic! Cut his mic!”

“I understand that the language is offensive,” responded Jonathan Groat, a deputy metropolis legal professional. “Nobody condones this. But he legally is entitled to give his public comment.”

Two protesters have been ultimately ordered to depart the room for yelling, whilst Herman continued talking on the podium.

“The longer we disrupt him, the longer he’s gonna be up here,” Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson instructed the viewers.

While Herman is barred from county conferences, he has remained a dependable presence at City Hall, hurling slurs and epithets and at occasions utilizing pretend overseas accents in ways in which goal varied racial and ethnic teams. He typically makes loud bleating noises and has his small canine in tow. He not often says something substantive.

On Friday, when Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky — who’s Jewish — known as Herman’s title at a committee assembly, he arrived on the podium and stated, “Thank you, Jew.” At one level, he stated Yaroslavsky and Blumenfield have been “f— Jews.” At one other, he known as council members “fucking c—.” He additionally used the N-word.

“I hope god kills you,” Herman stated, punctuating his assertion with a profanity.

Yaroslavsky ordered Herman to be faraway from the room, not due to the language, however as a result of, amongst different issues, his remarks have been off-topic. “Get him out of here, he’s out,” she stated.

“We apparently are required to listen to this because of lawsuits,” Yaroslavsky instructed the viewers.

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