Dispute Over Los Angeles Conference Center's Fee Waiver

January 16, 2002

Source: Los Angeles Times

On January 16, 2002, the Los Angeles Times reported that "two Los Angeles officials Tuesday sought to reconsider a $30,000 fee waiver granted to the Nation of Islam for use of the Convention Center, following a challenge by the Anti-Defamation League... Under city policy, a waiver can be granted if the event is beneficial to the community... The event, called Saviors Day 2002, has an anti-gang focus, with workshops on community organizing, gang intervention and family relationships, said Tony Muhammad, western regional representative of the Nation of Islam. 'Gang violence is up in Los Angeles, and the Honorable Louis Farrakhan believes he can play a role in curtailing gang violence,' Muhammad said... ADL Interim Regional Director Aaron Levinson and league counsel Tamar Galatzan [wrote] in the letter to the council: 'The Anti-Defamation League fails to see how subsidizing Nation of Islam's unwavering record of racism and bigotry serves any public or educational purpose,'... The ADL letter alleges that Farrakhan 'has long expressed anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-Catholic and homophobic rhetoric.' The ADL challenged the waiver on the grounds that it violates city policy prohibiting waivers for religious events that are not generally open to the public, and a policy that limits waivers to $2,500 per day... Councilwoman Jan Perry, who sponsored the waiver approved by the council last month, said the city has approved waivers for other religious groups that hold educational conferences... The anti-gang event will fill local hotels and bring $2.8 million to the local economy, Perry said... 'When you talk about freedom of expression, as a government we are not in the business of censoring others' comments whether we agree with them or not,' Perry said."