7th District Councilman Richard Alarcon wants an amendment to Councilman Bernard Parks’ original motion regarding Parker Center. As you know, Parks’ is pushing to keep the name of the new L.A.P.D. Police Administration Building Parker Center, after Chief William “No One Asked Them People to Come Here” Parker. Alarcon is feeling a different name. One to the tune of the “Tom Bradley Center.”
Wave columnist Betty Pleasant has the goods on a letter from another infamous police chief, Daryl Gates, who, to no one’s surprise, is in favor of continuing the use of the name Parker Center.
I have another letter to share with you. This one was written Friday by former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates (yeah, him) to L.A. Times reporter Joel Rubin and it magically fell into my hands — as most things do. Gates opens his letter by taking a Gates-like slap at Joel, as follows: “Thank you for a rather decent article regarding Chief Parker — much better than your colleague’s, e.g. [Tim] Rutten’s “op-ed” piece that was so incredibly biased. At least you cited a few of the contributions this great man brought to the city.”
Gates is an obtuse man; he always has been and always will be, but I’m going to digress here a little bit to try again to educate Gates and everybody else within the sight of these words as to the difference between “news” and “op-ed” commentary. Gates calls Rutten’s op-ed piece “incredibly biased.” Of course it is! It’s an op-ed piece! It’s Rutten’s opinion!
As a journalist who specializes in expressing my opinions about virtually everything under the sun, taking sides on almost every issue I see and advocating for or against anything that piques interest, I know that similarly obtuse people who disagree with our work regard us as biased, unfair and unobjective reporters who do not cover both sides of an issue. Of course we don’t. We are not reporters. We are commentators and columnists who are not required to give quarter to an opinion counter to our own — except in cases when we want to demean it, repudiate it and tear it apart. The only opinion that matters to us is our own, so naturally we are “incredibly biased,” unfair and totally subjective and we are completely upfront about it. The whole point of my and Rutten’s body of work is to get you, the reader, to agree with us and reach the same logical conclusions we have.
Rubin, on the other hand, is a reporter who wrote a news story about the controversy surrounding Councilman Bernard Parks’ attempt to have the new police building named for that pig, Chief William H. Parker. And as such, Rubin was obligated to, as Gates said, “at least cite a few contributions the great man brought to the city” whether he believed in them or not. (For the record, Rutten and I believe those “few contributions” are totally irrelevant in comparison to the evil the man rained on this city.)
Before moving on to Gates’ letter, I want to remind you of that time back in 1991, following the police beating of Rodney King, when the Independent commission on the Los Angeles Police Department — called the Christopher Commission — was empanelled to conduct “a full and fair examination of the structure and operation of the LAPD.”
Remember how about a year later, the Christopher Commission issued a thick blue-colored report that found the LAPD repeatedly used excessive force against the citizenry and ignored guidelines about the use of force? Remember how the report condemned the LAPD for failing to control its officers, as only 42 of 2,152 allegations of excessive force from 1986 to 1990 were sustained by higher-ups? Remember how the report recommended a new standard of accountability be established within the LAPD to reduce police brutality? Remember how then-Chief Daryl Gates publicly reacted to the Christopher Report when he got his copy? He threw it to the ground and repeatedly stomped on it!!! I know because I watched him do it.
Bear that in mind as we plow through Gates’ letter in which he extols the virtues of this “great man.” I will not print the whole letter because it’s the standard Gates dribble and it will only piss you off. I’ll just summarize it. First, he writes about how Parker professionalized the LAPD and created the Intelligence Division that kept organized crime out of L.A., blah, blah, blah. Then he cites Parker’s creation of a press relations officer “to make the work of the media easier and making the department transparent — a concept which seems to be in vogue today.” [I have to say something about that: Parker created a propaganda unit which made the department transparent to only what it wanted the media to see, which was very little until Bratton came.]
Gates writes that Parker and the LAPD were not the cause of the Watts Riots. “I was on the scene and the good people were not rioting anyway — criminals and opportunists, mostly,” Gates writes. [Me again: Gates is stupid and incapable to getting his mind around the causes and effects of the Watts riots. To his mind, police are never wrong; they could never contribute to such civil unrest as a riot.]
Then he writes that Parker wrote the police manual, started the country’s first Planning and Research Division, and developed the first Internal Affairs Division which “brought discipline to officers working everywhere in the city — particularly the minority areas. Officers were no longer able to treat minorities badly, and complaints against mistreatment were treated with the same seriousness as treated elsewhere.” [Me here: Oh, shut up!!]
Gates continues: “Parker promoted the first Black policewoman sergeant and encouraged officers of all ethnic backgrounds to promote.” [It’s me: Yes, that first black female sergeant was the late Sgt. Vivian Strange. I knew her well, as she was Parker’s Nubian lackey and spent all of her time in my face at the Sentinel trying to shut me up. Every time a police atrocity occurred involving a Black person, Sgt. Strange came running to my Central Avenue office to feed me the police line and keep me from writing the truth and upsetting the nigras. She’d always show up and ask: “How can I help you?” I always responded: “By gettin’ the hell out of here so I can write.”
I was 18 or 19 years old and I didn’t give a damn about her. In fact, I disliked her intensely. She was the Black personification of all things Parker. Given the frequency of police brutality in the community, I believe she was in my office more frequently than my mother, who often brought me lunch — and checked to make sure I wasn’t off doing something she felt was dangerous. Strange’s partner was the equally Black Sgt. Cornelius “Corny” Cooper. Even though he was an older guy, I didn’t mind his being in my face ’cause he was hot!
Gates goes on in his letter about Parker’s great community relations programs and his tireless work “to make the LAPD the most professional police agency in the world.” Toward the end he writes: “Joel, I knew this man better than anyone alive today. I had intimate conversations with him. There was not a racist bone in his body. … I think we could go back into the backgrounds of some of the most treasured names in our history and find problems that could be spotlighted … and so it was with Parker — taking a few statements and using them to define this man is outrageous without putting them in the proper context.
“Bernard Parks is showing uncommon courage in supporting that the new facilities continue to bear the name Parker Center. He is a police professional [who] clearly understands Parker’s influence on his profession. The City Council at the time named the police building after Parker unanimously — they understood and appreciated his great place in the long history of Los Angeles.”
Daryl F. Gates.
So, what do we have here? Two of the three living former LAPD chiefs support retaining the name Parker Center for the new police administration building: Daryl Gates and Bernard Parks. I rest my case.
The issue is set to come before the City Council tomorrow (Wednesday), where Police Commissioner John Mack, myself, and others are expected to offer comments on why the City should discontinue its use of the name Parker Center.
Feeling like an activist?
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
John Ferraro Council Chamber
200 Spring Street
Can’t make it, try L.A. Channel 35.