Behind the fleeing punks followed four or five officers, nightsticks held high. They fanned out as they rounded the corner. The kids broke and ran; Mary Lou and I stood still. When the police were 15 feet away, Mary Lou took a photograph, the flash briefly lighting the green uniforms and young, mustachioed faces of the cops.
One officer rushed directly toward us. Mary Lou, in her early 40s, the mother of three teenage daughters, started a no-nonsense explanation. "Officer, there’s no problem. We’re photojournalists here to cover a story about teenagers." Too late, we realized the officer was after us. As we turned away, he leapt the guardrail and struck Mary Lou in the ribs with his stick. A second later he hit me too.
We staggered away. Mary Lou held her side and told me she was hurt, "really hurt." As we walked away, a policeman stuck his baton in my back and kept pushing. A kid with blood streaming from his head approached. "Where can I get emergency medical treatment?" he asked the officer, his voice slightly hysterical. "Anywhere but here," the cop told him. "Get the fuck out of here." (Later I would learn "Get the fuck out of here" was what the nice cops said.) Behind us, in the parking lot, I saw policemen in twos and threes pursue kids, catch them and beat them with their sticks.
One kid, seeking two older persons, fell to his knees in front of Mary Lou and me and stretched a bloody hand toward us. "Why are they doing this to us?" he sobbed.
We reached my car and left. Instead of the early evening I’d anticipated, I waited at the hospital until 4:30 the next morning. By then doctors had X-rayed Mary Lou’s broken rib, taped it up and given her something for the pain.
After dropping her off, I listened for news. KNX radio ran the police version. "Punks went on a rampage in Huntington Park . . . $25,000 damage . . . Police called to quell the disturbance."
In "The Hammer Tapes" (August 7, 1987), Mark Ryavec reported on FBI tapes in which an in formant suggested that oil man Armand Hammer had paid him to infiltrate a group opposed to drilling in the Pacific Palisades.
The tapes, recorded by the FBI in March and April of 1979, feature two agents identified only as "Johnson" and "McNally" questioning Herbert Itkin in the FBI’s local office. Saying that he came "to clear up any questions," Itkin details in a soft New Jersey accent how Hammer allegedly hired him the previous April during a meeting in [Occidental Petroleum’s] Westwood headquarters. Itkin says his first job was to determine the membership of No Oil, since a local court had just ruled against Oxy’s request for disclosure of the membership roster. According to Itkin, Hammer claimed the information was necessary because the Oxy office had recently been vandalized and he wanted to see if there was a tie between No Oil and the Jewish Defense League, which was critical of him for reasons other than the oil project.
To that end (and at Occidental’s expense), Itkin said, he set up his English girlfriend and future wife Sandra Downs in the luxurious Edgewater Apartments in the Palisades. Oxy also allegedly paid to have the apartment furnished, to rent ä a car for Downs and to buy her a fake diamond ring — all to convince No Oil members that she was a wealthy widow who had moved from her native England after having been involved in stopping a proposed North Sea oil pipeline project.
The ruse worked, Itkin said. Though it took her two months to overcome the suspicions of No Oil leaders, said Itkin, Downs infiltrated the organization’s inner circle and got the membership list for Hammer. "The peculiar thing about it was there was no insidiousness on [No Oil’s] part," Itkin told the FBI agents . . . They really were people from the Palisades who had banded together . . . They had argued against divulging names only because they wanted their own privacy."
Itkin goes on to tell how Hammer then allegedly told him to keep Downs on the case "because we’re going ahead [with the drilling application], and I’d like to know if they plan anything in the future . . . Let’s keep it going." According to Itkin, Downs was "to find out strategy . . . to see what politicians were visiting them [and] to see where they got their power." Downs stayed undercover for Hammer until September 1978, when she abruptly dropped out of sight. The infiltration effort cost Hammer a total of $40,000, Itkin said.
Neither Itkin nor Downs could be reached for comment; neither has surfaced publicly since 1985, when they lived in Playa del Rey. But No Oil board member Nancy Markel confirms details of Itkin’s infiltration story. "It did happen that way," she says. "She approached us saying she had just moved into the neighborhood, was very concerned about the drilling plan, and had time and money to volunteer. There was something peculiar about her story, but she worked on different people and eventually was invited by them to closed board meetings where critical strategy was planned. Then she just disappeared."