TTT Vol. 4 #4 July-August 1991
Blue by Day White by Night
More and more disturbing evidence continues to come out about neo-nazi involvement in police, law enforcement and other uniformed services, including fire departments and the military.
In the wake of the Rodney King beating, a Black woman police officer came forward to disclose she and another Black officer had been the targets of KKK harassment from cops at the Foothill Division where the King beating took place. Later, a white-bereted paramilitary Klan outfit with close ties to Tom Metzger was disclosed to be recruiting in the L.A. police. This KKK formation has now announced that is going “underground,” presumably in preparation for race war.
Meanwhile, in Texas, members of the Houston police expressing the view that “somone’s got to do something about what’s happening to white officers in the department” also requested and received recruitment material from the Klan. Charles Lee, grand dragon of the Knights of the KKK, said “There’s no other organization that stands up against reverse discrimination.”
Klan activity has also been exposed recently in several fire departments. In Detroit, the FBI is investigating the harassment of a Black firefighter in June by a sergeant who allegedly put on a white sheet and a pillow-case hood and brandished an axe. In a similar case last year in L.A., a fire department supervisor donned a white paper bag in a mock hood and intimidate a Black woman employee. Dozens of Black firefighters resigned from the union in protest. In Blakely GA, Black residents supported by the Center for Democratic Renewal won an out of court settlement that resulted in the resignation of the fire chief and two other Klan members of the department.
Now two VA police officers have started a national organization for white male police officers to oppose affirmative action hiring and promotion policies. “We feel the same as (women and minorities who) think they don’t have a voice,” said one organizer of the group, which allows only white male officers to be voting members. The group was originally to be called the National White Law Enforcement Officers Association, but replaced “White” with “Concerned.” This cosmetic change doesn’t hide the racist nature of the group, which follows the “just defending white rights” line of the KKK, David Duke and George Bush.
White supremacists in the police and military have repeatedly put their beliefs into practice through racist violence and many times by funneling weapons and intelligence to their hooded compatriots. They must be exposed and excluded from law enforcement. PART has a research report, “Blue by Day, White by Night,” available from P.O. Box 1990, Burbank CA 91507, for $2.00, that exposes dozens of such incidents over the last decade. Send for a copy now!
Police Abuse Captured on Video
Police abuse cases fill courtrooms and make headlines all around L.A, and a lot of it is on videotape. Sgt. Stacey Koon, one of the officers involved in the infamous beating of Rodney King, was videotaped subduing a drug suspect with a TASER gun in an incident a couple of years ago, and that tape was actually incorporated into a training film that is being used by the police department to illustrate the proper use of force.
In the case of several Samoan men charged with assault on an officer after they were beaten by sheriff’s deputies called to a noisy party, video-tapes of the men being beaten by deputies convinced the jurors to acquit, and were also instrumental in winning damages for those beaten.
However, in the notorious case of the two Long Beach cops who were captured on video tape by NBC in a sting operation by African American ex-cop Don Jackson, who is shown on tape being thrown against a plate glass window and a car hood, the mostly white jury was hung 11-1 in favor of acquittal of the cops. Only the single Black member of the jury held out to convict the cops. The jury even discounted charges of falsifying an arrest report against the cops. The cops maintained that Jackson had cursed them, when the tape clearly shows Jackson silent while the officer curses him. The defense claimed that the cops were suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome when they wrote the report which distorted their memories of what actually occured.
In another case of police abuse going unpunished, a jury refused to convict several LAPD officers of conspiracy and vandalism in the destruction of several apartments on Dalton Street in the African American community in a so-called “drug raid” which netted no drugs but resulted in the utter devastation. The families are still pursuing a civil judgement against the city, but the jury in the criminal case said they felt that even though it was clear the police had wantonly and incorrectly destroyed the homes, the prosecution had failed to prove its case against the particular officers.
The assistant D.A. in the case blamed the LAPD and the City Attorney for participating in a cover up of the police misconduct, and blamed their refusal to cooperate with the prosecution, as well as the police “code of silence” regarding fellow officers, for the jury’s refusal to convict. The L.A. Daily News released the text of two internal police memos, one by Vernon himself, which cited the Dalton Street raid as an example of the “farcical mismanagement” of the LAPD war on drugs. The City Attorney and LAPD were ordered to pay a fine for “neglecting” to turn these reports over to attorneys for the families’ whose homes were destroyed in the raid.
Meanwhile, a retired deputy sheriff involved in a dispute with Sheriff Block obtained and released to the media a video-tape taken in the aftermath of a rebellion in the County Jail five years ago. The tapes show the Sheriff’s SWAT team regaining control of the jail through the use of exploding rubber pellets, and then when the inmates have been subdued, the deputies force the prisoners to run a gauntlet, crawling down a corridor on their bellies while deputies rain blows on them with their batons. Sheriff Block claimed that the incident demonstrated unnecessary but not excessive force, and that no officers had been disciplined at the time because individuals could not be identified on the tape.
Besides all this video footage, evidence continues to mount of racism in police operations, especially in dealing with complaints. An analysis by the L.A. Times of over 4000 complaints of police misconduct recently showed that complaints by African Americans are much less likely to be upheld by the LAPD’s investigations than those by whites or Latinos. On the other hand, complaints against Black officers, particularly by white civilians, are much more likely to be upheld than those against white officers. (Overall, only about 7% of complaints are sustained, a ratio diametrically opposite to the conviction rate in trials in criminal court.) Another study last year of the use of deadly force and guns by the L.A. Sheriff’s showed that the overwhelming majority of those killed or shot by the deputies were Black and Mexicano.
In another court development in L.A., a jury found in favor of long-time activist Michael Zinzun in his law suit against Chief Gates and Assistant Chief Vernon. Vernon, a born-again fundamentalist preacher who has recruited many of the department’s officers to his ministry, used the computers of the LAPD’s Anti-Terrorist Task Force to retrieve articles about Zinzun, a former Black Panther who was running for City Council in Pasadena, and gave the material, via his wife, to his neighbor, a former mayor of Pasadena. The City Attorney had recommended that the city settle with Zinzun for $450,000 — which Zinzun had been prepared to accept. But after the Rodney King beating put the heat on Gates, the City Council voted to turn down the settlement and go to trial, figuring they could beat Zinzun in court. But the jury ruled for Zinzun, ordering the city to pay $3.85 million in damages and directing Vernon himself to pay another $10,000 in punitive damages. Even after winning, Zinzun offered again to settle out of court to put the case to rest without further expense, but the City Council at Gates’s recommendation again refused to accept the settlement proposed by the City Attorney, and insisted on fighting the verdict with an appeal.
Meanwhile, Vernon has come under criticism from the City Council after a local paper released transcripts of tapes by Vernon, circulated by a local church, in which Vernon denounces homosexuality, calls for women to be submissive to their husband’s “leadership,” urges parents to discipline their kids “with a stick” to save them from hell, and refers to police as “ministers of God” who are allowed to use deadly force.
Critics also questioned Chief Gates’ ability to determine Vernon’s fitness, and whether his religious views had affected his job, noting that Gates’ wife attends Vernon’s church, as do many police officers. At least two cops have charged that they were coerced into attending, with the threat of being frozen out for promotions.
It was also disclosed that prior to carrying out orders to arrest Operation Rescue blockaders who were shutting down a women’s clinic, Vernon had consulted with elders of his church to seek their permission. Vernon issued a memo in 1975 which is still L.A.P.D. policy on gays, though a draft statement saying that no discrimination will be tolerated is currently being circulated. His memo states that “there is no area sacred from the homosexual when it comes to furthering their insurgent ideas … Homosexuals have a corrosive effect on their fellow employees because they attempt to entice normal individuals to engage in perverted sexual practices … The disqualification of applicants based on homosexual conduct must be continued.”
The LAPD has come under increasing criticism from lesbians and gay men for its homophobia and anti-gay attacks. Jon Davidson, senior counsel for gay and lesbian rights at the ACLU, said that “lesbians and gay men have been among those singled out for assault and unequal enforcement” by the LAPD. Roger Coggan, the legal services director at the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center, reported that the agency had received 60 reports of police misconduct against lesbians and gays over the past two years, almost one in every six of the anti-gay hate crimes reported to them over that period. Gay and lesbian activists have also testified harshly about police practices to the Christopher Commission formed in the wake of the King beating to investigate police abuse and how the department and the city handle it.
The department is also being sued by a former officer, Mitch Grobeson, now with the San Francisco P.D., who claims he was harassed internally so severely after he was “outed” as a gay man by a Sheriff’s deputy that he was forced to quit the L.A.P.D. despite having been once personally commended by Chief Gates. Grobeson sought to expose the brutal beating of a gay man by a cop in Silverlake, a mixed Latino and gay area east of Hollywood, at a 1985 street fair that has become an annual event to promote understanding in the diverse neighborhood. He told the press that Vernon instructed the LAPD to destroy evidence against the officer involved. Grobeson blames the department’s homophobia on the Chief and Vernon. In refusing to recruit open gays to the force, Gates was quoted as saying, “Who would want to work with one, anyway?” More recently, he told another local police chief, head of the neighboring
Monterey Park force, that “gays are evil, and do evil.”
When the LAPD agreed to allow several officers who came out of the closet in the past few weeks to recruit in uniform at the “Christopher Street West” Gay Pride march in L.A. on June 23, Gates at first declared his opposition. When it became clear that the Community Relations Unit had already authorized the recruitment and the uniforms, Gates backed down, saying that he was personally opposed to the officers wearing their uniforms, but would not prohibit it. He also declared that he wasn’t in favor of recruiting “on the basis of lifestyle,” saying that he had enough trouble recruiting from the groups that he was mandated to hire (women and minorities, who won lawsuits to overturn discriminatory hiring practices by the LAPD). On the same grounds, Gates vetoes a proposed settlement of Grobeson’s lawsuit. Grobeson, however, decided to join the openly gay current officers in recruiting at the Gay Pride march. The officers involved, including lesbian officer Sue Herold, reservist Paul Butler, and training officer John Smith are members of a group of gay and lesbian L.A. law enforcement personnel called “Pride Behind the Badge.” The group was formed after more than 60 gay cops got in touch with Grobeson after he went public with his suit.
The time is long overdue for community control of the police and a top to bottom overhaul of the whole system. The problem is much bigger than just Chief Gates or a few rotten apples. The police must be accountable to the democratic power of the people. The best available way to move in that direction is the proposal for an elected civilian board being offered by the Coalition for Justice and Civilian Review. As TTT goes to press, sponsors are investigating the process of qualifying to circulate petitions to put this proposal on the ballot. PART has endorsed this campaign, and urges everyone in L.A. to contact CAPA, the Coalition Against Police Abuse, at for more information about this campaign.
Letters to PART
Hey now! Thanks for the issue of TTT with my interview in it. Since I had last written to you, I found out that Aryan Nations and WAR (yes, the Metzgers are still at it) have put out a hit on me. My life’s in danger, but I will not hide. So, the more I can do to combat them and their beliefs, the better. I wish there was a more peaceful way I could deal with these jerks! But you and I know this is not possible.
I want to help any way I can in the fight against racism. It once controlled my life, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through the same things that I did. Well, that’s about it for now. Thanks.
I want to congratulate you on the fine work you’re doing on alerting everyone to the racist “invasion” the U.S. is going through.
I’d like to know if you have published, or plan to publish, an article on Puerto Rico’s political situation, political prisoners, our self-determination process, and what the U.S. is doing with us. Our island is one of the oldest colonies in the world, and when we want to choose our own future, Uncle Sam tries to suppress our will. Any information is welcome. Thank you.
P.O. Box 5111
Ponce Puerto Rico
As you point out, Puerto Rico is one of the first colonies of the modern period of capitalist colonialism, and one of the last remaining ones, still subject to a massive military occupation by the U.S., which invaded in 1898 just as Puerto Rico was winning its independence from Spain. As we approach the 500th anniversary of the European invasion of the Americas by Columbus, the demand for an end to colonialism in Puerto Rico should become a world-wide demand, and certainly here in the U.S., which is also approaching a century of direct colonial control of Puerto Rico.
The invasion of Borinquen by Columbus, who renamed it Puerto Rico, resulted in the virtual extermination of the indigenous Tainos by slavery and disease. The remnant of the “indians” who fled to the mountainous interior inter-mingled with escaped African slaves and oppressed Spanish workers to produce the “jibaro” characteristic of the island, and have maintained their resistance to this day. Puerto Rico in this century has successfully withstood U.S. efforts to depopulate the island, to replace Spanish with English, and to turn the entire archipeligo into a military preserve.
Puerto Ricans who have resisted this genocidal domination have been subjected to fierce political repression. One-third of all Puerto Ricans now live in the continental U.S., including 100,000 or more here in California, and from this still-patriotic population, as well as in Puerto Rico itself, the U.S. has taken many nationalists and independentistas captive as political prisoners and prisoners of war. One organization to contact about these and other prisoners is Freedom Now!, 59 E. Van Buren #1400, Chicago IL 60605; 312-663-4399.
Just thought I’d write to let you know of a skinhead group in Husum, WA called S.A.W.S. (Skins Against White Supremacy). We started last year and researched the racist problem. I’m originally from Boston, MA, and when I lived there, there wasn’t really much of an anti-racist scene or group. Everyone just did their own thing, but racists weren’t seen very long because everyone liked to kick the shit out of them. Now, since I’ve moved out west, I can’t believe what a racist skin problem there is.
I lived in Salt Lake City for a year, and a lot of boneheads from Idaho used to come to the hardcore shows, and the worst thing was, everybody feared them! Not good! Now, I live in WA about an hour from Portland, so I often go to shows there and try to learn more about Portland’s ordeal. I was lucky enough to be around for Metzger’s slap in the face.
We were going to get a P.O. box and a ‘zine going, but I joined the Marine Corps, which postponed it all. Being in the Corps, I’ve seen more depressing actions and hateful graffiti in 4 months than I did all last year. It doesn’t look good when our military services, which is where the state picks up most of their police, are as fucked up as they are, when we’re supposed to represent America, freedom and protection for the flag and all Americans. What I joke, I was greatly disappointed.
Anyway, I thought I’d just give you my point of view of it all. Keep in touch.
P.O. Box 531
Lyle, WA 98635