Bradley Takes Aim at Death Squad Terrorists
Warning that a wave of Latin American-style death squad incidents in Los Angeles “will not be tolerated,” Mayor Tom Bradley said Wednesday he will ask the City Council to post a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those behind the recent kidnapings and death threats.
“If we don’t stop it here in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, Washington, D.C., will be next,” Bradley said. “That’s the reason it’s important, it’s urgent, that we deliver this message in Los Angeles. . . . We in this community are going to do everything in our power to stop it here.”
Two Central American activists have been kidnaped in the last three weeks and about 30 others, including Father Luis Olivares of Our Lady Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church at Olvera Street, have received death threats.
The activists, generally, are opposed to the current U.S.-backed Salvadoran government.
In the most serious incident, a Salvadoran woman was abducted July 7 by two Salvadoran men who she said raped and tortured her during six hours of interrogation. She said her abductors, who did not identify themselves, told her they spared her life to tell others “we are here.”
The FBI announced last Friday that it was opening an investigation into “the possibility of terrorist activity in Los Angeles.”
At least four different divisions of the Los Angeles Police Department, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, are also investigating the various incidents.
LAPD spokesman Cmdr. William Booth said the department’s Criminal Conspiracy Section will coordinate the efforts.
Booth asked that anyone with information about the incidents call their local police first. Specifically, he said, police are seeking information from anyone who either knows the abductors, or who saw either of the two kidnapings.
“Two masked men driving a lady around the city may well have been noticed,” Booth said.
He was referring to the second kidnaping of a Guatemalan woman, Ana Maria Lopez, on July 17 near a bus stop on Vermont Avenue in Hollywood.
“I hate to think that money might make a difference in a case like this,” Bradley told a news conference announcing the proposed reward. “We’re talking about a moral issue. But there are some people who need that inducement to come forward.”
He also urged anyone who receives a threat to call police in their area immediately.
“Don’t wait a day. Don’t wait an hour,” he said.
A spokesman for the mayor said an official request to the council for the reward will be made today.
Bradley’s press conference was organized by the Southern California Ecumenical Council’s Interfaith Task Force on Central America. His remarks were bracketed by calls from the group to end U.S. military aid to El Salvador, which, they charged, contributes to continuing violence there.
Asked if he agrees with that allegation, Bradley answered, “I’m not up to speed on this.” The mayor added, however, that he opposes U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan contras .
The ecumenical council also announced Wednesday that its members are housing some Salvadorans who are targeted by the threats, and are seeking to raise $40,000 in emergency funds to help pay moving costs, loss of rental deposits and other expenses incurred by the threatened refugees.
One of the refugees, Mercedes Salgado of the Central American Refugee Center in central Los Angeles, said telephone threats continue to come in at a rate of two or three a day. At the request of police, she said, she declined to specify the nature of the threats.