Daryl Gates, who died this morning, was never very guarded in his public comments, often to his detriment. But he was especially frank about his downfall in this (rather fawning) interview with Orange Coast Magazine in 1994:
What happened, clearly, was that this was an opportunity for some very venal politicians to go after me, who they didn't like… I think there was a struggle for black power. Clearly, blacks found themselves in a position of having lost a great deal in the way of power. They were losing a mayor of the city, they had no candidates for governor, no candidates for Senate, and this is across the nation. Where blacks had really moved up on the political level, they suffered a downturn. And this was an opportunity to take on a chief and a police department and show great visibility. Why would Jesse Jackson come here and attack me?
Almost every other week he was here in California. Obviously, it was to get the kind of media attention that I was drawing. Every other black leader jumped into the fray…
The mayor, of course, did a complete flip-flop. How much better off we would have been if the political leadership would have said, “We know that's a fine department. We may disagree with the chief on a lot of things, but we know it's a fine department. Well-trained, dedicated to keeping the city safe, fewer police officers per population than anywhere in the country covering an enormous area, doing a magnificent job. And we're going to support them because we know this is an isolated incident.” If the community leadership, the business leadership, had jumped up and said, “Hey, wait a minute, we know this police department. We know the kind of police department it is an we have confidence in this police department.” If you'd heard that kind of support, we'd have gotten through this thing, and we'd have investigated it…. All this would have been done and we would not have had that intensity of rhetoric… We wouldn't have had a riot. I guarantee you, we would have never had a riot. The anger in the air, the rhetoric in the air, coming from Maxine Waters and the others, created an excuse for people to go to the streets.