TTT Vol. 4 #5 Sept.-Oct. 1991
CHRISTOPHER COMMISSION WHITEWASHES POLICE RACISM & ABUSE
In spite of documenting the extent of racism and sexism in the L.A.P.D. by releasing more than 80 pages of computer print-outs from police patrol communications filled with vile racist slurs, the Christopher Commission’s report is a whitewash.
The Commission had two primary concerns: to end the political paralysis in L.A. that resulted from the stalemate between Mayor Bradley and Chief Gates’ backers on the City Council; and to restore the tattered legitimacy of the Police Department in the wake of the videotaped beating of Rodney King. These members of the city’s establishment came around to the view that Gates had to go, not to pay for the crimes of the L.A.P.D., but to shut the voices of protest up and restore “business as usual.”
WHO RULES L.A.?
The Christopher Commission is a vehicle of the establishment elite that has always run L.A. Warren Christopher himself, as Deputy U.S. Attorney General, was assigned by LBJ to coordinate Army and police efforts to control the Chicago rebellion after the assassination of Martin Luther King. When Carter appointed him Deputy Secretary of State, his nomination was held up by allegations that he had approved military surveillance of domestic dissidents.
Christopher is a member of the elite Trilateral Commission, which has maintained that the problem in the U.S. is an “excess of democracy” that allows marginal and disenfranchised minorities to destabilize the whole system. It is exactly this doctrine which requires the use of police repression to keep the oppressed in their place.
Christopher’s crony on the Commission, Roy Anderson of Lockheed and ARCO, sits with him on the corporate boards of Southern California Edison, First Interstate Bank and Stanford University. Even the Black members of the Commission come from the same elite mold. John B. Slaughter is on the corporate boards of IBM, Monsanto Chemical and Union Bank. The reforms these people advocate are designed in the interests of the big corporations, not the working people of L.A., and certainly not oppressed minority communities.
Because of the extent of racism in the L.A.P.D. and the fear that it might lead to another Watts Rebellion, under conditions where 50,000 or more Black and Latino youth have access to automatic weapons, these representatives of the elite were forced to admit to some embarrassing disclosures and make some recommendations that would correct the worst violations.
COPS AND THE KLAN — HAND IN HAND?
The commission reports several transmissions referring to the Ku Klux Klan, another to a watch commander with “white hoods,” and even one using the slogan “white power,” but it doesn’t deal with the possibility of organized white supremacist activity in the police force.
Testimony given by African American officers about harassment which they attribute to KKKer’s in police ranks is not reported, and the Commission neither commented on the recent publicized efforts of the Klan to recruit in the L.A.P.D. nor looked into Chief Gates’ assignment of the Anti-Terrorist Division to investigate Klan infiltration of the Department. No results of that investigation have yet been made public. Are we supposed to forget about it?
WHAT THE CHRISTOPHER COMMISSION DIDN’T DO
Despite chronicling the extent of discrimination inside the department and in its operations in the community directed against Mexicanos, Salvadorans and other Latino immigrants and refugees, the Commission is silent about complaints that the L.A.P.D. has turned not only criminal suspects but also victims and complainants over to the INS for deportation.
While admitting homophobia in the department, the report fails to even mention the lawsuit against the department by several former gay officers (whose proposed settlement was sabotaged by Chief Gates), or the fact that the majority of recent gay bashings reported to the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center were actually carried out by law enforcement. Nor does it deal with the epidemic of sexual abuse and wife battering by police officers, despite a recent court ruling finding the L.A.P.D. potentially liable for a rape by one of its cops.
By focusing exclusively on the L.A.P.D., the Commission is able to propose reforms, such as tenure and civilian accountability for the chief, that would bring the L.A.P.D. in line with other departments. Yet those other departments, starting with the L.A. Sheriffs, are equally guilty of racism, sexism, homophobia and brutality. The three killings by sheriffs in August alone, one by a deputy linked to a white supremacist gang, the Vikings, make that clear.
And by leaving Gates in power, free to set his own agenda, the Commission sabotaged even its own limited reforms. Since the report was issued, officers who testified have been subjected to harassment and retribution, Gates’ friends have been rewarded with promotions, and break-ins directed at community groups involved in exposing police criminality have taken place.
WHAT THE CHRISTOPHER COMMISSION REALLY WANTS
The heart of the Commission report is probably its recommendation that the department move away from its current aggressive para-military crime fighting strategy towards an alternative model of “community oriented policing.” The report proposes that “community based policing’s emphasis on officers interacting positively with the public should have the effect of ‘humanizing’ their perceptions of those whom they police … (It) would increase the effectiveness of the police and diminish the tension between the public and the L.A.P.D. by eliminating the view of the ‘community as the enemy.'”
Yet the Commission reports, as an example of current community-based programs within the L.A.P.D., the experiment in “community policing” begun in 1989 known as “Operation Cul-de-Sac,” in which the police erect barricades and street barriers, posted “Narcotics Enforcement Area — Open to Residents Only.” Officers on foot, horseback and bicycle saturate the area and require identification of people entering.
This racist program actually had its antecedents during the “anti-terrorist” hysteria orchestrated by Daryl Gates at the time of the 1984 Olympics, when the Black community surrounding USC was cordoned off. It’s an aptly-named dead end. Even the Commission’s report acknowledges criticisms of the program for operating only in minority neighborhoods and for resulting in harsh treatment of suspected gang members, while having only an illusory effect on crime by simply displacing it to other nearby streets.
Having created the conditions of poverty, degradation, and hopelessness that breed crime, the ruling elite’s proposed solution — “community policing” — amounts to a prescription of a police state as the solution to these woes, and some in the affected communities, tired of drive-by shootings and other criminal victimization, are ready to accept it.
The problem with the L.A.P.D. is not just 44 bad apples; the apple tree is poisoned at the roots. Police brutality and repression are inevitable when the “haves” consider the “have-nots” expendable. Such problems can’t be swept under the rug by a few reforms; but such problems were not what the Commission was trying to address. The Commission wants to regain control of the agenda and re-establish the legitimacy of the police, and it hopes that with this report it can shut us up by confessing some of the worst sins of the L.A.P.D.
But the Commission is conceding only as much as it feels it has to, to achieve its ends. To end police brutality and racism, we need an assertive anti-racist movement that can confront all forms of oppression and build a truly humane society.
A longer research report on the Christopher Commission is available for $2.00 from PART.
“O-Town, a bonehead gang in the Orlando area, has regrouped. They are one of about 5 neo-nazi groups in central Florida backed by the KKK.”
“The nazi-skin problem here in NYC has been all but destroyed from the scene (they still exist in areas of New Jersey, Staten Island and Bklyn in fairly strong numbers). Where I come from in Brooklyn, a mostly Italian/Irish working class ‘hood, there used to be B.A.S.H., Brooklyn Aryan Skin Heads, but they died off about 2 years ago.”
“Rumor has it that in the historic mining/tourist town of Virginia City, NV, several bars celebrate “Martin Luther Coon Day” rather than M.L. KIng Day each year. Apparently, the owners and patrons put on blackface, eat watermelon and celebrate the death of King. The bars rumored to be involved in this insulting behavior include the Union Brewery, the Crystal and the Ponderosa.”
“There are a large number of nazi-boneheads and head-bangers here in San Bernardino’s North End district. There’s a predominantly white gang called the North End Stoners that frequently includes SS and swastikas in its graffiti. It’s my belief James Oluden has been recruiting from/coaching this group in hate crimes. Incidents have occurred in the San Bernardino area, including cross-burnings here and in Rialto.”
“There were two nazi ss symbols spray-painted in Soquel, near the east side of Santa Cruz recently, one on a real estate office, the other on the post office. A few months ago someone vandalized a synagogue in Aptos with anti-semitic slogans. Rio del Mar, on the beach in Aptos, is filled with redneckkks … I saw one guy with “white” tattooed down his left arm and “power” down his right, with a swastika on his shoulder.”
Dear PART folks —
Real good to receive the July-Aug. TTT! Enclosed is a sub and order for your reports and a donation to help with the work; also clips on the July 20 KKK rally and our counter-demo, which went quite well. As of now, it doesn’t appear they’ll be back in Denver in August.
Colorado AIM (American Indian Movement) has been very much in the forefront of the anti-Klan work here. All of us doing counter-demos will continue, whenever the klan/nazis make a public appearance.
In the struggle,
P.O. Box 18717
Denver CO 80218
Tiyospaye American Indian Student Organization (TAISO) supports what PART is trying to do, and what TTT says. We have found the newsletter informative and interesting. TAISO is well aware of the rise of white power groups nationally. Our relations, particularly in the upper Midwest, are bearing a large part of the abuse. We have felt it as well, with death threats against our leadership. TAISO has actively and physically confronted the white supremacists on repeated occasions in the Tampa Bay area, along with the African People’s Socialist Party.
We appreciate any assistance your Florida readers can give, as we operate on a shoestring. TAISO is planning a demonstration against the Columbus Quincentennial on Oct. 12 at 3 pm in St. Augustine, FL. We have a Sept. 16 vigil for Palestinians murdered during the intifada and a Sept. 8 demo in Tallahassee against a museum exhibit glorifying Columbus’ massacre of the Timucuan, Arawak and Caribe people. In December, we are demonstrating against the New Tribes Mission, who believe that Christ will return when the last Indian is converted to Christianity. They call their missionaries “Commandoes for Christ” and offer a convert-or-die proposal to native people.
We will keep you appraised of white supremacist activity in Florida. The NAAWP (David Duke) is recruiting heavily in central Florida. TAISO and many other groups confronted the KKK on Aug. 17 in Gainesville. The Grand Wizard of the United KKK, John Murphy, was at the Gainesville rally.
2084 Leewood Blvd.
Melbourne FL 32935
Dear PART folks,
It has been good to see the level of commitment in PART to work that needs doing. This past year I organized a women against racism series. It was exciting to have so many interested and willing to commit the time. In the last sessions, we talked about native people in this land, what has been done to them, the up-coming 500 years celebration, and how we, as non-native people, can act as allies.
I’d really like to see at least part of an issue of TTT devoted to this question, hopefully with a list or resources, reading, etc. Two books I’d like to recommend are by a Menominee woman, Chrystos, a poet, fighter, story-teller, organizer… the first is called “Not Vanishing”, the second “Dream On”. They’re published by Press Gang. She also travels to do readings.
Three groups I know of that are doing some work are American Friends/AFSC; Women’s International League/WILPF; and Clergy & Laity/CALC. I’d like to hear what others are doing and would be glad to help with resources.
Thanks so much for your work,
Fai, Seattle WA
PART replies —
All of these letters point to the important issue of Native Nations’ sovereignty as we approach the 500th anniversary of European colonialism in the Americas. The “Quincentennial” hoopla cannot mask the reality of on-going genocide, not only in this country, but throughout the Americas. The world historic reality of the invasion of America by Columbus and the Spanish, French, British and Dutch conquerers who followed resulted in the devastation of cultures and people not only throughout North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, but also in Africa, which was depopulated by the slave “trade” to provide labor to work the land stolen from the Native people by the European rulers. This is not only a matter of history however, but a continuing present day reality.
The lead in counter-Columbus quincentennial organizing is rightly coming from Native nations internationally, but solidarity and education within Euro-American communities is vital. We are reprinting some resources elsewhere in this issue, along with information about the important case of Leonard Peltier, a Native political prisoner whose case has long been recognized internationally as one of political repression by the U.S. government.
I was glad to see you denounced the Jewish Defense League/JDL for their anti-Black, anti-Arab racism. Here in NYC, they have a notorious reputation for violence, especially their “community patrols,” which have a license to beat down anyone they don’t like (usually young, black teenagers).
I managed to scrape up some dough. Send me the reports on KLAN-TV, the Cops and the Klan, Abortion and the KKK in U.S. history. Keep up the excellent work!
Dan, c/o NY AYF
P.O. Box 365
NY NY 10013
Thanks for the kind words. You and our other readers should note the involvement of the former head of the JDL in Orange County with an anti-immigrant hate line, offering points to people who turn in undocumented workers for deportation (see Update section).
All of us with the United Anarchist Front completely agree with you as far as George Bush, the courts, Pentagon and corporate boardrooms go. Governments are built around the principles of racism, sexism and hatred.
The new quota policy is a perfect example of the way the system divides us. Now white people are losing out because of the color of their skin. That gives the KKK and Tom Metzger the chance to use it for their own benefit. It’s dividing us once again. The whites are mad at the minorities, the minorities mad at the whites.
Smash racism, smash the state! It’s up to all of us make a strong anti-racist presence in our communities. Thank you for the information you send us, it is much appreciated and needed.
Together … we will!
P.O. Box 11036
Whittier CA 90603
PART replies — Dear Chris:
If, by the quota system, you mean affirmative action or other recent civil rights legislation, I don’t think we’re in agreement. The argument you make is the same one made by George Bush, Jesse Helms, David Duke and Metzger, whom you oppose.
It is true that two wrongs don’t make a right, but it’s also true that we must right all wrongs. Affirmative action to the point of a preference for an “equally qualified” candidate from an oppressed group is one justifiable way to redress racism in hiring and promotions.
For example, if current seniority results from the fact that Blacks or women didn’t used to be hired for certain jobs, then obviously using current seniority and experience as a basis for retaining and promoting people does nothing but propogate into the future the existing discrimination. It’s like the KKK inspired immigration restriction bills that gave preferences to people based on their representation in the population in the 1920’s when immigration was explicitly restricted to northern Europeans. So affirmative action is a necessary counter-balance to this ongoing and institutionalized racism, a better solution than just claiming to be color-blind “from now on.”
It’s also true that we can’t rely on the state or the corporations to be “fair.” Oppressed communities need to rely on their own efforts and self-determination to win liberation, and we all need to be in active solidarity with each other’s struggles against oppression.
Here’s my subscription renewal to TTT. Enclosed also is info on an East Coast “environmental” group (or white supremacist hate group disguised as environmentalists). They insist that immigration is the source of all our population and environmental ills, and claim limiting immigration will solve them, as if the Border Patrol didn’t already have enough excuses to act like storm troopers. This “solution” to the population issue is just the sort of thing Metzger, WAR, the Klan and other hate groups will latch onto.
I sent a letter of protest to the Sierra Club about their first ad in Sierra Magazine, spouting racist anti-immigration propaganda, but they are still printing it. I hope you can ram some sense into this group’s heads.
Chris, San Bernardino
PART replies —
Negative Population Growth, whose material you sent, is one of a number of anti-immigration groups whose “ecological” arguments serve as a thin cover for racism. We have also written to them to protest. Others include Population/Environment Balance, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and Americans for Border Control (ABC). Many of these groups follow the tried and true right-wing direct mail strategy, where most of the money they raise goes back into new fund-raising mailings and propaganda campaigns. But in San Diego, several of these groups have participated in anti-immigrant vigilante actions like “Light Up the Border” which have provided cover for more violence prone racists like WAR and the Metal Militia.
There are more definite links. John Tanton, a former board member of Zero Population Growth (ZPG), a slightly more “mainstream” group than NPG, is also a founder of both FAIR and the English Only movement, and has received funding from hard-core racists who support nazi “eugenics” theories. PART is currently revising and expanding our research report on English Only to include the whole spectrum of the anti-immigrant hysteria.
Environmental devastation is not a result of people, per se, but of how people live on the land. What is ironically true about the population-racists’ ecology argument is that the U.S. is per capita and in toto, the greatest consumer of the earth’s resources. Of course, the solution to this is not to seal up the borders, but to change the wasteful and destructive way we live in this country.
After reading TTT, I was quite perturbed by the slanted point of view portrayed throughout your newsletter. You are ignorant, so you have to target so-called racist hate-mongers as a scapegoat for your own short-comings.
I can rationalize in my own mind the need of certain minorities to speak out, but in today’s society, repugnant minorities are unable to conform to mainstream standards. Equality between the races should be considered an absurd ideal. Mongrelization is their only hope.
I must not omit the race conscious Jew, who possesses racial solidarity and loyalty the likes of which exists in no other human group. Transfer world control today from the International Jew to the highest commercially talented group of whites, and the whole fabric of the world would fall to pieces.
So please don’t blame the hatemonger. Blame yourselves and the greedy Jew who’s pulling the strings, while the white man’s caught in the middle burning a cross on center stage. PART punks, please respond.
Love and peace,
Wende Correctional Facility,
Alden NY 14004-1187
P.S. I double dare you to print the truth!
PART replies — Dear Robert:
PART doesn’t scapegoat any one. We oppose hate, and we think haters should stop hating, because it is so destructive to all concerned. We try to print the truth as we see it, without fear or favor as someone once said. We are critical of all forms of bigotry because it clouds people’s minds to the truth and to the need for constructive action to make the world a better place.
As far as Jews running the world or having greater racial unity and solidarity than anyone else, it seems pretty far-fetched to us. There are some Jewish financiers and bankers; but there are a great many more who are Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, or Shintoists. Neither the Japanese nor the Germans and Dutch, who have some of the most powerful banks and industrial conglomerates in the world today, have ever been noted for their sympathies toward Jews or their inclusion of any Jews in their ruling groups.
The notion that Communism was a secret Jewish capitalist plot to rule the world seems to have run out steam in the face of reality, too. As far as the “racial solidarity” of American Jews, the majority of young Jews in America marry out of the faith and have done so for some time, hardly a mark of Jewish racial separatism or disdain for non-Jews.
The notion that the demonically-clever but immoral Jews are running everything and trying to mongrelize the white race by using Blacks and others as pawns, is a classic example of scape-goating by white people who can’t understand why their own “racial superiority” hasn’t put them personally in the driver’s seat. This allows them to buy all the rest of the racist notions propagated by the white rulers who are running things, who have always sought to de-humanize on racial grounds, all the people they have conquered and exploited.
If you don’t like the shape the world is in, stop blaming it on the minorities and the Jews, who are relatively powerless, and direct your anger at the people who are really running things, and care more about the color of your money than the color of your skin. Otherwise, you’re just identifying with your oppressor because you and he share the same skin pigment and not much else.