TTT Vol. 4 #3 May-June 1991
NO RACIST COPS, NO K.K.K., NO FASCIST USA!
In the wake of the beating of Rodney King by L.A. cops, there has been a virtual coup d’etat in L.A. by supporters of Chief Gates. In a democracy, the civilian, elected leadership is supposed to control the military. But here in L.A., it seems like the opposite is true. The L.A. City Council, blatantly capitulating to Gates, ordered the City Attorney to agree to settle out of court a lawsuit brought by the chief after he was placed on paid leave by the Police Commission. The Council decision meant Gates missed only a single day as chief. City Council Pres. Ferraro engineered a joint press conference with Gates and Mayor Bradley at which the trio called for “quieting the rhetoric” and “getting on with the business of government”. The business of government appears to be police repression.
The city’s political elite has collapsed before the powerful police chief, which some speculate may be because of dirt that the cops have turned up about members of the Council and other politicians. The LAPD spied on most of the city’s civic leaders for years, and as part of an agreement to get them to stop, everyone had to agree not to say what they had on whom. But in less refined circles, this is called blackmail. Perhaps Gates’ life tenure in office is similar to that of fascist FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, who knew the skeletons in every closet in Washington DC.
THE WAR AT HOME
It’s up to the people to fight back. 7,000 people rallied outside Parker Center to demand the ouster of Chief Gates and an end to police brutality on April 6, after a march through downtown, in which police estimated that over 1000 onlookers joined in. Most were African American, but there was also a larger than ever, but still disappointing, turnout of other nationalities. There were mostly-white contingents from Queer Nation and ACTUP-L.A. and significant Hispanic and Asian/ Pacific participation. The L.A. Coalition Against U.S. Intervention in the Middle East organized a very small feeder march and car caravan.
Where are all the people who mobilized against the war in the Gulf? How can they stay silent on a war at home?
THE COPS AND THE KLAN
Meanwhile, more information continues to come out about organized white supremacist involvement in the L.A. police. In response to a letter from a supposed L.A. cop, the White Knights of the KKK, a para-military Klan faction based in Oklahoma, which is close to southern California neo-nazi leader Tom Metzger, has sent recruiting letters to over 100 officers, at both precinct houses and their homes. Dennis Mahon of the White Knights claims to have received more than fifty responses to the recruiting literature. This followed on the heels of disclosures that at least two Black officers at the Foothill Division station, where the beating of King took place, had been harassed with Ku Klux Klan literature that could only have come from fellow cops.
Gates was quick to condemn the Klan activity, saying that he would try to expel Klansmen from the police force. But new disclosures also highlight the pattern of racist violence by the force. Yet another of the officers involved in beating King has turned out to be the object of an unnecessary brutality law suit, after it was disclosed that he had broken a Latino man’s elbow with his baton and minimized the use of force in his police report of that incident.
Weekly demonstrations are scheduled to continue on Saturday mornings outside police headquarters, and the next major mobilization is a Mothers’ Day March against Police Brutality scheduled for May 11. A 24-hour-a-day vigil is going on outside Parker Center until then. A ballot initiative would have voters decide on a recall of Chief Gates, who can be removed from office by voters even though he is not an elected official. 60,000 signatures are required by August 9 to put the recall on the ballot. A second initiative, developed by a Coalition for Justice and a Civilian Review Board, revives a call for an elected board, with 15 members elected from distinct communities, that would have the authority over police and the right to make payments to victims of police abuse. A spokesperson for the civilian review board campaign, former Black Panther Michael Zinzun, is currently suing Chief Gates and Assistant Chief Vernon over Vernon’s use of police intelligence files on Zinzun to provide a computer printout to Zinzun’s opponent in a Pasadena election, another example of the police trying to control the civilian political process. The City Attorney’s office had recommended settling out of court but the City Council refused to authorize the payment. PART calls on all progressive people to turn out on May 11 and to join in the campaign to end police brutality, assert community control over the police, and expose and uproot the white supremacists on the police. Klansmen in uniform and demagogic politicians who dance to the tune of the police chief are the ingredients of fascism. PART has just produced a new research report called “Blue by Day, White by Night” exposing KKK and neo-nazi involvement in police departments, the military and among prison guards over the last decade. It’s vital reading, and places the local events in L.A. in a national and historical context. It’s available for $2.00 postpaid from PART, P.O. Box 1990, Burbank CA
LETTERS TO P.A.R.T.
Enclosed is a donation. I know it’s not a hell of a lot, but I’ll send more once my slavecheck I mean paycheck comes in.
Well, I see L.A. is burning up with racist attacks by cops. I really feel for that guy who got beaten by the cops. Now they’re saying he had alcohol and pot in his system. This sounds like bullshit because those drugs could have been in his system up to three days. I can’t believe the cops went that far. Now you have to protect yourself from everybody!
The anti-Arab attitudes around here is booming. I feel sorry for the Arabs in this area because the rednecks and other racist assholes harass them. I read in some biased magazine that now the “allies” (U.S., U.K., etc.) hope that Saddam Hussein stays in power because they’re afraid if the Kurdish rebels and their allies overthrow him. I hope the Kurds do win, because they’ve been suppressed by everyone and they deserve their rights as human beings.
P.O. Box 544
New London CT 06320
Dear TTT –
I read a letter in your last issue I wanted to contest. I’m sick of hearing the on-going battle between violent and non-violent anti-racist activists. I think both sides need to unite to win this war.
I don’t know what the boneheads are like in other cities, but here in Ottawa, they will beat you up if you’re anti-racist even if you tell them you don’t want to scrap. I also know that when you beat up a bonehead, they often don’t come back for more; in fact, their friends look at him and say, “Oh, god, Billy’s crippled. I think I want out.”
But the main problem I have with a purely self-defense posture is the fact that boneheads will only go at you when they think they’ll win, so if your anti-racist group adopts a purely self-defense “you punch me first” attitude, your membership will continually get picked off until there is no one left to stand up to the boneheads.
Of course, it’s also crucial to get as much media as possible and as much contact with other organizations and the public. I hope people will see the light and see that direct action and positive public perception can go hand in hand. Incidently, we have a wicked skin ‘zine for $3.00 called Colourblind so if you’re interested, please write.
Stay smart, stay SHARP, Liam
Ottawa Area SHARP Crew
Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Dear TTT —
I was reading your last issue and saw that Orange Park, FL was on the hate crime update list for the racist literature that was spread around the high school. The lit was a joke and the guy who spread it is a joke … who likes to play skinhead every now and then. All the skins around here (racist and non-racist) hate him. As a matter of fact, the same week he spread the racist b.s., he got his ass kicked at a local Burger King. Other than that idiot, the only trouble we have with boneheads is at our beach and clubs. Any SHARP or ARA chapter that wants to write or come down and help us with our problem is more than welcome!
Nazis are a joke!
-Chris, Orange Park FL
An Open Letter to White America:
When we thought drug abuse was confined to Blacks in the inner cities, we did nothing about drug abuse. When we thought gang killings were confined to Latino youths in the nner cities of this country, we weren’t interested in gang killings. When we thought AIDS was confined to gay men, prostitutes and IV drug users, we were not interested in AIDS. And now we seem to think that police abuse is confined to a young, Black male motorist, who, after all, did violate a traffic law, and we aren’t interested in police abuse.
Perhaps it’s time for us to think again.
Lynn F. Kessler, Ph.D.
One of my arguments against people who hated racist skins, back when I was a racist skin, used to be that “Isn’t it racist to hate a racist?” The law says that in order for it to be a racist crime, the crime must be against a person or group because of race or religion. Well, white supremacy skins take their racist beliefs as a religion. Therefore, any group that physically does something against a racist, because he is a racist, is racist themselves. Maybe you could help clarify this idea a little in your next letter?
Allen, Arizona State Prison
You raise an interesting point. Anti-racists need to begin to define ourselves more by what we are for, than what we are against. We need to stand for freedom, equality, self-determination and respect, and not get caught up in trying to be the mirror opposite of one particular variety of racist that we oppose.
That said, however, there’s a difference between acts of racist violence on the one hand, and confronting, even attacking, racists (whether out of hatred of racists, or out of love for humanity) on the other. Racists and bigots have historically been motivated by an irrational hatred for members of another group. To the extent their actions have a rationale, it has been to steal what is possessed by members of the group it stigmatizes, or to protect the privileges of the dominant group.
Actions against racists, however, are taken against individuals who have defined themselves by virtue of their own ideologies and actions. A racist can and should relieve himself from the onus of opposition by correcting his ideology and practice, without thereby denying his identity or humanity.
Racists have never given their victims that option, as expressed in the hateful American slogan “the only good injun is a dead injun.” Hitler slaughtered even the grand-children of people who had converted from Judaism to Christianity. Race-conscious America defines “quadroons” and “octaroons” by measuring the percentage of “tainted” blood. Nazis and racists get attacked not for their belief systems, but their practice and actions.
HITLER ROSE, HITLER FELL —
NEO-NAZIS CAN GO TO HELL!
35 neo-nazis celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday in Denver on April 20 were out-numbered 50 to one by protesters in an angry confrontation. Police on motorcycles and horseback used dogs to keep the two groups apart during the standoff at the Colorado state capitol building. Ten counter-demonstrators were arrested on minor charges, and one cop was hit in the head with a can or brick. Our correspondent in CO says nazis were also pelted with eggs and horse manure.
The nazi boneheads and other followers of white supremacist groups, some in Nazi uniforms or KKK robes, tried to listen to speakers at the Capitol rally, while 1700 protestors chanted loudly and urged passing motorists to honk their horns, drowning out the speakers. Overhead, a plane flew by trailing a banner: “Racism is ignorance.”
After the rally, angry Black and Mexicano demonstrators confronted some of the white supremacists as they left the Capitol for the bus terminal earlier than intended. The police hustled the nazis double-time onto a bus they brought up to evacuate them. Demonstrators pelted it with bottles and rocks, breaking one of the windows. As the rally broke up, the white racists were spat on and their cars kicked. Our correspondent says Ed Novak of the KKK had his hood pulled off, and the nazi “leaders” fled in cars, abandoning their bonehead followers to the crowd’s righteous anger.
The counter-demonstrators had ignored pleas from city officials to stay away and ignore the nazis. They waved banners reading “No Hitlers in Colorado,” and “Never Again.”
A CROSS BURNING IS AN ACT OF RACIST TERROR!
A 16-year-old student who was charged with burning a cross on the grounds of Fairfax High in Virginia last Dec. 6 , following a week of incidents that had incited racial tensions at the school, got off when a Virginia family court judge called the cross-burning “free speech.” The burning cross symbol has been a Klan activity since Reconstruction. Cross-burnings are meant to terrorize and intimidate; unchallenged, they lead to assaults, arson, and lynchings.
But despite Virginia’s state law against burning a cross with intent to intimidate, Chief Family Court Judge Jane P. Delbridge threw out the felony charge in April. The case was closed to the public because it involved a juvenile. The teenager’s family has moved out of the state so he won’t return to the school which had suspended him after the incident.
The cross-burner’s lawyer argued that “cross burning, like flag burning, is a form of symbolic speech.” Assistant prosecutor Steve Brigilia said that the Virginia code discourages “acts of violence, such as those associated with the Ku Klux Klan.” He said the law isn’t too broad because it applies only to situations in which a cross is burned in order to intimidate. At least 16 states have laws that ban burning crosses or other religious symbols.
The teen was arrested Dec. 6 for burning a cross on the front lawn of Fairfax HS. Previous incidents included racial slurs, a fight between a black and a white student, two brothers driving through the school’s parking lot waving a large Confederate flag, and grafitti in the bathroom saying, “The South Will Rise Again.” According to Virginia’s law, any person who goes onto the property of another or on a public property and burns a cross with the intent to intimidate someone else is guilty of a felony.
“You may not intend to express anything by lighting a cross in your neighbor’s basement to test out a smoke alarm. But under the statute, you’re presumed to be a felon,” the boy’s lawyer protested. “Lighting a cross” is a term used exclusively by the KKK in an attempt to dignify the act. The lawyer claimed that some forms of intimidation should be protected. “All forms of intimidation can’t be criminalized,” he said. “If someone burns a cross to make a point like we’re segregationists or white supremacists, it’s something for which they should be scorned. But, it’s a political statement. As unsettling as some people may find it, they have the right to say it under our Constitution.”
This argument is phony. Flag-burning is an act associated with protest of war, genocide and political repression; it is a defiance of the state power by oppressed people. Cross-burning is an act associated with night-riders and racial violence; it is a proclamation of power by the oppressor.
In Los Angeles, charges are still pending for a triple cross-burning that took place more than seven years ago, as lower court judges have repeatedly dismissed the case on free speech grounds. Yet in the wake of the first dismissal, several of the defendants became federal fugitives, and were ultimately convicted of such crimes as killing a state trooper, a fellow white-supremacist and a radio talk show host, and stealing millions in bank and armored car hold-ups.
In the wake of the second dismissal, two of the people involved in the cross-burning, Tom and John Metzger, were convicted in civil court for liability in the beating death of an African refugee. If the cross-burners had been effectively arrested, prosecuted, convicted and jailed, none of those killings might have occurred. That blood is on the hands of the judges who dismissed the charges.
RECENT ACTIVITIES OF PART
PART has been involved in a number of anti-racist activities and mobilizations recently. PART marched in the L.A. Student Coalition demonstration against apartheid, hate crimes and war in the Mid East and Central America on Martin Luther King’s birthday. Michael Novick, editor of TTT, spoke to about 1500 people, mostly high school students, at this rally, focusing on hate crimes committed during the war and the necessity for the anti-war movement to be an anti-racist movement. The coalition of L.A. high school students took the streets on their march and conducted a highly successful “die-in” at the South African consulate in Beverly Hills.
PART also co-sponsored a candle-light rally and march against hate crimes in the San Fernando Valley on King Day with the Valley Interfaith Council, the Greens, Queer Nation, SHARP and several other groups. PART is working with this same coalition on a follow-up work-shop to promote unity in diversity.
Finally, PART is participating in the campaign to stop police brutality and oust Chief Gates in L.A. Local subscribers will have received a flyer we are distributing about the cops and the Klan, calling for people to join a May 11 rally outside police headquarters.