Report is talk of the town
Sally Ann Stewart;Jonathan T. Lovitt
LOS ANGELES - Shock waves from a report card on the nation's second- largest
police force rippled across this city Wednesday.
A day after the Christopher Commission released its 228-page report criticizing
the LAPD, people flooded radio talk shows with calls.
``I watched police arresting a guy outside our store,'' said optician Dallas
Hopkins. ``They saw me watching, too. And I think they held back.''
At City Hall, seven of 14 Council members said Chief Daryl Gates should retire.
Minority and civil-rights groups held press conferences to talk about the LAPD's
``siege mentality.'' The commission released an 83-page addendum listing
hundreds of computer messages sent by on-duty cops to fellow officers.
- ``Did you arrest the 85-yr old lady or just beat her up.''
- ``Nothing but wetbacks no speaky English and ugly.''
- ``My shooting policy is based on nationality and looks.''
Residents of predominantly black and Hispanic south central Los Angeles were
relieved, even proud, that the commission had validated minority complaints of
the LAPD's racism, sexism and brutality.
But, warned 17-year-old Stephan Thompson, a camera salesman, ``If they don't
get rid of Gates, there's going to be more lawsuits.'' Thompson says he was
walking to the corner store last month when a cop in the middle of busting a
crack house tackled him.
``It used to be that you could ask a policeman directions,'' says church deacon
John Eugene, 59. ``Now, if you approach them, the first thing they do is reach
for their gun.''
Police union president George Aliano said he's been swamped with police calling
for copies of the report. Many were shaken by its contents.
``It hasn't made my job any easier,'' said Officer Suzy Regan. But like most
officers, she was standing by the chief. ``Gates should stay as long as he likes.''
Detective Mike Brox applauded release of the computer transcripts. ``Some of
the things that I've seen over the computers are appalling.''
Said American Civil Liberties volunteer Danny Goldberg: ``As painful as this is
for L.A., I think that in the future, this will be seen as a historic turning point.
All of a sudden, this is no longer just minorities. This is a consensus.''
CUTLINE:RESIDENT: John Eugene, 59, says once `you could ask a policeman
directions. Now, the first thing they do is reach for their gun.'
PHOTO;b/w,Bob Riha Jr.,Gamma Liaison