The Bum Blockade, Zoot Suit Riot and Bloody Christmas 

An anecdotal history of the LAPD

Wednesday, Sep 4 2002

1877 — The LAPD emerges as a full-fledged police department. Patrolmen are required to remove weeds and to inspect sewers, among other tasks.

1902-1909 — Corruption scandals force the retirement of five L.A. police chiefs.

1910 — Twenty-year labor struggle against the Los Angeles Times culminates in the dynamiting of Times printing plant by strikers, killing 21. Using the bombing as a pretext, the LAPD initiates a staunch anti-labor stance that continues for decades.

Related Stories

  • LAPD Militarization 10

    This week, much of the public has been aghast at images of police in Ferguson, Missouri, wearing camouflage, driving armored vehicles and aiming assault rifles. This "militarization" of police has been decried and blamed on an influx of cash from the federal drug war and Iraq-era surplus gear. But the issue of...
  • Chief No Show? 2

    An African American anti-crime organization says Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck has pulled out of a scheduled meeting at a time when homicides have seen an uptick and there are concerns in the black community regarding racially insensitive comments made by LAPD Det. Frank Lyga. See also: LAPD Det. Frank Lyga Taken...
  • A Cop's Killing

    Controversial Det. Frank Lyga said he once threatened to reveal to the media that his 1997 shooting of fellow cop Kevin Gaines was "a sanction hit on Gaines by LAPD," according to a memo purported to be written by an officer to Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger regarding a talk...
  • Det. Frank Lyga Sent Home by LAPD Following Racially Charged Comments 4

    The Los Angeles Police Department today sent Det. Frank Lyga home with pay after "new information ... came to the attention of the chief of police," Commander Andrew Smith told the Weekly. The longtime detective was relieved of duty but will still collect his pay check until at least 30...
  • Reflections of '92 2

    Injustice. Anger. Fear. Looting. Racial tension. Deployment of the National Guard. The headlines this week in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown might have come from newspapers in Los Angeles 1992, after rioting followed not-guilty verdicts for officers accused of beating Rodney King. At...

1922-23 — More than 100 members of the 1200-man department are discharged for brutality or corruption.

1926 — Chief James Edgar Davis forms a 50-man "gun squad," and says of the city's gangsters: "I want them brought in dead, not alive."

1929 — As big business and religious reformers demand a "pure" city, the LAPD responds by arresting 50,000 people that year.

1936 — Seeking to halt the "invasion" of dust-bowl Depression refugees, Chief Davis usurps the state's power, declares a "Bum Blockade," and sends LAPD officers to all major entry points into California to bar the entry of the migrants. The Los Angeles Times favorably compares Davis to England's 16th-century Queen Elizabeth, who "launched the first war on bums."

1943 — Sailors from the Chavez Ravine Naval Base riot and assault Mexican-American teenagers. The LAPD reacts by arresting the victims. The Zoot Suit Riots follow.

1950 — William H. Parker, the iron-fisted creator and intellectual father of the modern LAPD, is sworn in as chief. He transforms the LAPD into the national model for "confront-and-command" policing.

1951 — Bloody Christmas. Seven young Latinos are brutally beaten by LAPD officers while in custody. Eight officers are later indicted. The re-creation of the beating is a major scene in the 1997 film L.A. Confidential.

1962 — Eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court orders the desegregation of American schools in Brown v. Board of Education, Chief Bill Parker orders the desegregation of the LAPD.

1965 — Sparked by a controversial LAPD arrest, the Watts Riots burn for six days through South-Central L.A. Thirty-four die, more than 1,000 are injured, 600 buildings are destroyed, burned or looted, and 4,000 are arrested.

1965 — California Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown names ex-CIA Director John McCone to head a commission to examine the causes of the rebellion. Critics denounce the commission report as a whitewash of the LAPD.

1967 — Ten thousand anti-war demonstrators peacefully march in Century City but are met by 1,300 LAPD officers in riot gear. As violent confrontations erupt, Mayor Sam Yorty comments: "Of course, some of those people smeared themselves with red paint to make it look like blood."

1967 — LAPD unveils the nation's first SWAT team.

1974 — Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps Patty Hearst, comes to L.A. and holes up in a South-Central bungalow. The house goes up in flames, and six people are incinerated on national TV during a firefight with LAPD officers.

1975-1982 — Fifteen people die while being subdued by LAPD officers employing the "chokehold." Over the same period in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas, only one chokehold death occurs in each city.

1979 — Eula Love, a distraught 39-year-old South-Central housewife, is shot and killed by LAPD officers after she brandishes a bone-knife on her front lawn during a dispute over an unpaid gas bill. Her case becomes the cause célèbre in publicizing similar police shootings of unarmed or lightly armed suspects.

1981 — The Coalition Against Police Abuse, the ACLU and 120 others sue the LAPD for illegal spying by the Public Disorder Intelligence Division branch of the department. Six thousand pages of released documents reveal that the LAPD had been spying on L.A.'s mayor, City Council members, a state senator, a U.S. congressman, the governor and attorney general of California, the National Organization for Women, the Beverly Hills Democratic Club, and religious, civil rights and environmental organizations — more than 200 individuals and organizations in all. The PDID is dismantled and replaced by the Anti-Terrorist Division.

1982 — As the deindustrialization of Los Angeles accelerates, the Bloods and Crips build up their gang networks. The LAPD responds with an increase in anti-gang units.

1985 — Chief Daryl Gates uses an armored personnel carrier with a 14-foot protrusion known as the battering ram to smash a gaping hole in the wall of a reputed gang drug house. He finds only kids eating chocolate-swirl ice cream, and one-tenth of 1 gram of cocaine. No charges are filed.

Related Content

Now Trending

  • L.A. Porn Production Shuts Down Over HIV Report

    The adult video industry's trade group today called for a moratorium on production after a performer might have tested positive for HIV. The Los Angeles-based Free Speech Coalition said in a statement that one of the facilities used by porn stars under the industry's voluntary, twice-a-month STD testing protocol "reported...
  • Woman Fatally Struck by Vehicle at Burning Man

    A woman was fatally struck by a vehicle at Burning Man today, organizers said. The Pershing County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada identified the deceased as 29-year-old Alicia Louise Cipicchio of Jackson, Wyoming. Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham said she fell under a bus or "large vehicle" that was carrying participants early today. See...
  • Venice Boardwalk Beat-Down Caught on Video

    A brutal beating next to the Venice boardwalk this week was captured on video (on the next page). Los Angeles Police Department detectives are asking for your help in tracking down not only the suspect, but the victim, who "we haven't been able to locate," Officer Nuria Venegas told us...
Los Angeles Concert Tickets