A man entered a City Council meeting dressed in a white robe and hood which resembled the suit of a Ku Klux Klan member on Wednesday. Upon request he refused to remove his attire before stepping up to speak.
The person behind the mask was African American male Michael Hunt and this would mark the second day that he arrived to the meeting in the apparel. Hunt had submitted a card in order to speak during the standard public comment period and was called to the podium by the presiding officer, Dennis Zine.
Zine asked Hunt to remove the hood before speaking and told him that he could not be heard by the council, but he refused and stated that his First Amendment rights allowed him to be dressed as he was.
Through disgust with the image in front of them, many council members chose to rise and left the meeting in protest. Those that left were Councilman Greig Smith and the chamber’s three African American members: Bernard C. Parks, Jan Perry and Herb Wesson.
As a result of Hunt’s refusal and the departure of council members, Council President Eric Garcetti stated that he would be allowed to keep the hood. Although he might not have agreed with Hunt’s choice of presentation it was still his right to do so.
Two of the members whose departure pre-empted the adjournment of the meeting, Wesson and Smith, have stated that they plan on creating a policy that will place stricter guidelines as it pertains to the type of decorum allowed in the council chambers. They have even leaned towards using the policy used by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
There has been no motive discovered yet as to why Hunt has chosen to wear the outfit due to the council members leaving. Some have speculated that hunt wanted to see how far he could exercise his First Amendment rights and might have had the intentions of filing a lawsuit against the court if they chose to take actions against him.
Hunt had sued the city in April and was awarded $264,000 after challenging its vending ordinance. Since this incident, the city has filed for an appeal.