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Daryl Gates' real legacy
April 17, 2010 3:10 PM   Subscribe

You may have heard about Romeo Agents, the male employees of the East German Ministry for State Security (also known as MfS or Stasi). They were unleashed on female federal employees in West Germany, with whom they began long-term relations and then began using as sources. That tactic has apparently been used in the United States as well; David Cay Johnston writes about the real legacy of Daryl Gates, the former chief of the LAPD. Gates died Friday.

There were undercover officers assigned to sleep with women to gather political information that went to Gates, who spent 45 minutes to several hours each week on his spy files...

I had my cars broken into seven times, once when my Fiat Spyder was parked in the underground garage at Parker Center, the LAPD headquarters. All were smooth jobs - no broken windows or pry marks. All of these burglaries had a common feature: every scrap of paper was taken...What was never taken was the money....

He asked me, in the crude language of cops, if I liked women with red hair and large bosoms. Sure, I said, what guy doesn't?...Gates began recounting to me a blind date I had been on a few nights before, down to the details of what we ordered at LA Nicola on Sunset near East Hollywood.


David Cay Johnston won a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times and earlier covered Daryl Gates for the L.A. Times.
posted by krautland (38 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
At a meeting in South Central that has been used by TV and many screenwriters, a gathering of blacks upset about LAPD violence erupted into demands from one person after another in the audience to attack LAPD officers and division buildings. The leaders at the actual meetings told these people to shut up. Year later court documents showed that the calls for violence all came from undercover LAPD officers, one of whom stole hundreds of dollars from the organization he infiltrated and served as treasurer.

Cointelpro never gets old, I guess.
posted by yeloson at 3:16 PM on April 17, 2010


     \O/
^^^^^^^
^^^^^^^

Enjoy hell, Daryl!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:24 PM on April 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


I read this early today and it was excellent background before reading the articles in the LA Times about Gates, while not totally positive, brush over a lot of the ugliness that Gates caused.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:34 PM on April 17, 2010


Thank you for posting this.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:34 PM on April 17, 2010


He scores well.
posted by hortense at 3:51 PM on April 17, 2010


Instead of a ".", what's the emoticon for a middle finger?
posted by Gucky at 4:09 PM on April 17, 2010


I always thought that Gates was the most evil man in LA. But now it appears I vastly underestimated him.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:20 PM on April 17, 2010


Gucky: "Instead of a ".", what's the emoticon for a middle finger?"
  |
\n|nn

posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:35 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


..|.,
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:25 PM on April 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Keep it simple .!.
posted by Nothing at 5:27 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the more I read about Daryl Gates, the more that the LA that I knew growing up makes sense. Everything from the LA riots to the crack epidemic to the Rampart scandal just makes more and more sense. "Oh, it's him again. Go figure."

Even the insanely over the top responses to some of the fully permitted and fully unpermitted rave/warehouse parties start to make more sense. Over the top responses like 3 helicopters and 30 cruisers complete with riot cops and riot wagons for a few hundred kids kind of responses. Along with incidents like the cops shutting down the party because someone got shot - where all of the non-cop eyewitnesses say "Yeah, a cop shot somebody. He was unarmed. We all saw it. What the fuck are we supposed to do? Fight the LAPD in court? Who is going to believe us?"

No wonder LA never had any effective community organization or grass-roots community empowerment when it needed it most. Fuck that guy so much.
posted by loquacious at 5:30 PM on April 17, 2010


..|.,
posted by ruelle at 5:39 PM on April 17, 2010


..|.,
posted by Schmucko at 5:44 PM on April 17, 2010



Keep it simple .!.


What do genitals have to do with anything?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:58 PM on April 17, 2010


Jesus H. Christ, I had no idea.
Thank you for posting this.
posted by angrycat at 6:00 PM on April 17, 2010


.

(For the justice the people of LA were denied as a result of this man's actions.)
posted by homuncula at 6:10 PM on April 17, 2010


On Feb. 6, 1985, the LAPD used this armored vehicle with a 14-foot steel battering ram to raid a suspected drug house in Pacoima. Gates was in the vehicle's passenger seat. In the house at the time were two women and three small children, two of whom were eating ice cream.
Here's a picture.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:31 PM on April 17, 2010


I lived in LA in '87-'88, and it was common knowledge that LAPD was completely useless. My roommate and I chased away a mugger one night, my roommate went down to a coffee shop on the beachwalk where there were always cops, but they were completely uninterested. Maybe they were right, since the muggee was gone by the time I got back from chasing the mugger down the street. Of course, they only reflected the attitude of the rest of the neighborhood, since the two of us were the only people to respond to the mugging. No one else even came to their windows.

When I was in Hollywood, they would fly over the neighborhood every night at around midnight with a searchlight that cut through venitian blinds like they weren't there. But when there was an actual gang war, with kids running through the yards and shooting at each other with automatic weapons, they were nowhere to be seen for a good four hours.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 6:41 PM on April 17, 2010


When he had run dry I smiled and, in the sometimes crude language of reporters, told Daryl, which is what I called him, that I did not care if he knew with whom I was intimate.

Love the article but not having worked in journalism, are reporters famously potty-mouthed or something? Or is he referring to the fact that he just called the chief Daryl?
posted by circular at 6:45 PM on April 17, 2010


circular: Oh, yes. You know that old one about New Yorkers using "fuck" for punctuation? Yeah, well, the reporters I worked with had all upgraded to "cunt."
posted by rodgerd at 6:52 PM on April 17, 2010


The L.A. Times ignored the story. That vindicated my decision to alert its competition. It also reminded me that people need to be vigilant against not just police political spying, but monopoly news organizations.

A good example of how local newspapers can end up just as steeped in local corruption as they people they're supposed to cover.
posted by delmoi at 7:10 PM on April 17, 2010


When Gates knew I had the goods on his having officers overseas he grew determined to stop me.

Still loving the article. But lines like that make me wonder if the information is verifiable.

(Spock, the Star Trek character, was modeled on Parker, Bill Overend reported in the L.A. Times View section 25 years ago. Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek was co-author of "Parker on Police," a classic law enforcement manual, and like Gates was a Parker driver.)

Whoa. Need to read up on this Parker guy!
posted by circular at 7:24 PM on April 17, 2010


Whoa. Need to read up on this Parker guy!

There's a lot more than Parker as background info. You ought to read Thicker 'n' Thieves by Charles Stoker. It's the story of LAPD corruption during the period Parker rose through the ranks. I have a copy somewhere, I just checked around the web, wow it's selling used for like $300. This book is just the worst crime stuff I ever read, it would make one hell of a movie.

Basically, the books general theme (as I recall it, and it's been years since I read it) is that there are two types of towns, as determined by the police chief's attitude. Either a city is open or closed. An open city means the police participate in the crime by taking bribes and being in bed with the gangsters, on the premise that if you get cooperation of the gang kingpins, you can set limits and suppress crime generally, from the top down. Then there's a closed town, which absolutely prohibits police corruption, on the theory that all crime should be cracked down on mercilessly, since police cooperation with gangsters only emboldens them and lets them get away with more crimes. Open cities can't crack down on petty criminals for fear of alienating the higher up gangsters that they need to cooperate with. And everyone knows the big gangsters, they operate openly. But closed cities must crack down on every petty criminal because they must hide and finding one criminal can lead up the chain to the top gangsters you want to bust.

Now that's just the background of the book, which describes LA as an open city, with just hideous crimes being condoned by the LAPD. Then Vegas grew and there was a crime syndicate deal, Vegas would be open, but LA would be closed. The transition of LA to a closed city was turbulent and many old gangsters with police ties would get away with crimes well into the closed city era.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:53 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember Gates from the riots & his being replaced but I had no idea about any of this. Thanks.
posted by scalefree at 8:20 PM on April 17, 2010


,.|..

Most people are right handed.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:21 PM on April 17, 2010


There were undercover officers assigned to sleep with women to gather political information...

According to most of the women I know, the Fire Department would have made much greater inroads. Do police and fire feud in LA, like they do here in NY?
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:02 PM on April 17, 2010


In his book, Gates defends the LAPD's practice of citing jaywalkers, though he doesn't mention that his cops routinely chased people into buildings, including the L.A. Times headquarters, to issue these citations. Jaywalking tickets reduce pedestrian injuries, he wrote, ignoring that the police have more important duties.

Ah, yes. One morning in the early 80's a whole slew of kids from my school in Reseda who crossed against the light were given tickets by some cops who were supposed to be investigating an incident in a dingbat apartment nearby.

I was ticketed for similar, but not at the same time. The cop's attitude was "I'm sorry, but I have to do this"...not so the smegma who was called in when my biological excuse for a mother put a welt on my leg and one of the office workers at my school confirmed it to him. "I see kids hurt much worse than you. You're just mad at your mother, aren't you?" I didn't want to be put in a foster home, but I wanted her held accountable.
posted by brujita at 10:36 PM on April 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, this has certainly brightened my day. It appears he died of bladder cancer. It's nice to know he probably spent his last months on Earth incontinent and pissing blood like a properly beaten suspect.
posted by Netzapper at 11:36 PM on April 17, 2010


,.|..
posted by idiopath at 1:06 AM on April 18, 2010


Man, even Falwell's thread had mourners.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:26 AM on April 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


This obit thread would not be complete without mentioning Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest. (Walkthrough, part 1 of 10; other parts are available off this page.)
posted by Prospero at 6:11 AM on April 18, 2010


There's a fantastic film by Nick Broomfeld called "Heidi Fliess: Hollywood Madam." Mostly its about a bizzare love/hate triangle, but there's this weird section where Broomfeld starts to discuss the LAPD's relationship with prostitution outfits which it used for information.

Broomfield does an interview with Gates in a hotel room. And he has the camera running when Gates comes into the room. Broomfield shakes hands with him and directs Gates to a pile of money which was the price of the interview. Gates says "this is mine right?" Broomfield nods and Gates greedily shovels the money into the bag, unaware that the camera has been rolling the entire time. So awesome.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:36 AM on April 18, 2010


So have things at least improved with the LAPD since Gates got the boot? Or is the corruption just so ingrained that's it's a lost cause at this point?

Presumably they're not hunting for the pinko commies any more, but who would they be looking for now?
posted by That's Numberwang! at 7:04 AM on April 18, 2010


So have things at least improved with the LAPD since Gates got the boot? Or is the corruption just so ingrained that's it's a lost cause at this point?

well, rampart happened under parks (though gates set up the unit), who seemed more of an inept politician to me than anything more sinister. and bratton? I guess everyone has an opinion on him after his nyc stint but at least he's said to have made the LAPD a bit more professional.
posted by krautland at 7:51 AM on April 18, 2010


One of the reasons I hated Gates was an announcement he made just after the Rodney King incident. He said that he thought all high school kids should be required to take a course in how to behave when being arrested, as a graduation requirement. I mean, just think of that, he thought high school kids should be required to learn how to give obeisance to police.

(disclaimer: I worked for the prosecution against the "LAPD 4" cops that beat King)
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:59 AM on April 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Spock, the Star Trek character, was modeled on Parker

Not that surprising. Consider Jack Webb's portrayal of Joe Friday on Dragnet. Apparently Parker's persona pervaded public perceptions of police. If you wanted someone to model a cool, logical character on, that would be a good pick.
posted by adamrice at 8:13 AM on April 18, 2010


He said that he thought all high school kids should be required to take a course in how to behave when being arrested, as a graduation requirement. I mean, just think of that, he thought high school kids should be required to learn how to give obeisance to police.

I'm not convinced that shouldn't be a requirement, but obeisance is not the goal I have in mind. People don't know enough about their rights.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2010


spaceman_spiff: "People don't know enough about their rights."

Yep. If you would like to know more about your rights, see the ACLU's BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters

posted by telstar at 8:50 PM on April 18, 2010


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