The 1991 videotaped beating of Rodney King by L.A.P.D. officers, and subsequent riots triggered by the acquittal of the officers involved, rocked L.A. and the nation. The events brought to the forefront concerns about racism and police brutality within the L.A.P.D. Some, including former L.A.P.D. Police Chief Daryl Gates, say the the way Los Angeles responded to these events helped set the stage for the Rampart scandal. Here are the views of Chief Gates; Judge Larry Fidler; current L.A.P.D. Chief Bernard Parks; Gerald Chaleff, former President of the L.A. Police Commission; and Gregory Yates, L.A. civil rights attorney representing Rampart clients in civil suits.
Fmr. Chief Daryl Gates
Chief of L.A.P.D., 1978-1992
[Immediately after the Rodney King beating,] the image of the L.A.P.D. that was sent out to the world was this racist organization that took this opportunity to express its racism by brutalizing a black guy.
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The media, particularly the electronic media, began giving that impression by playing that tape over and over again. And then, of course, everybody that had an opinion about what took place out there; they came in, they chimed in, and they gave their opinion; and it did look like racism. "My goodness, here is this black person who is being beaten. It looks like the Old South." That's the impression that was given, but a totally false impression, because there was nothing racist about it. No one knew what Rodney King had done beforehand to be stopped. No one realized that he was a parolee and that he was violating his parole. No one knew any of those things. All they saw was this grainy film and police officers hitting him over the head. . . .
Do you believe, in retrospect--and putting yourself back at that moment--that there were forces interested in exploiting that tape, that moment--forces that had an ax to grind with the...