ACLU Figure Named to Police Board
Mayor Tom Bradley appointed civil libertarian and political activist Stanley K. Sheinbaum to the city’s Police Commission on Friday, a move that was hailed by community leaders seeking the resignation of Police Chief Daryl F. Gates.
The announcement followed a report in The Times on Thursday that the Bradley Administration wanted to fill the first of two vacancies on the five-member Police Commission with an appointment that would send a signal to Gates that he should resign or expect tougher scrutiny from the civilian panel.
As one source put it, the intention would be “to turn the heat up on Gates.”
While there was no immediate reaction from Gates on the appointment, Sheinbaum has a long record of defending civil rights against police abuses and in the past has been a critic of Gates. The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, of which he has been an influential member, is campaigning hard for Gates’ ouster in the aftermath of the March 3 beating of Rodney G. King by officers.
Hours before the appointment was announced, Bradley emphatically denied The Times report that his chief deputy, Mark Fabiani, is orchestrating a behind-the-scenes effort to oust the city’s embattled police chief.
“Let me make it unmistakably clear . . . I have had no part, no strategy whatever, to force, urge or demand Chief Gates to resign or retire,” Bradley told reporters. “I have not authorized any member of my staff to engage in similar kind of conduct.”
Bradley said he had a private conversation with Gates on Friday morning to assure him that The Times’ report, based on sources familiar with the campaign, is untrue. Fabiani could not be reached for comment.
The mayor again refused, as he has since the calls for Gates’ resignation began, to comment on whether he personally believes Gates should step down, saying that that decision was the chief’s alone to make.
Despite the mayor’s denial, critics of Gates applauded the appointment of Sheinbaum as a step toward Gates’ removal. “One more nail in Daryl Gates’ career coffin” is how Mark Ridley-Thomas, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Los Angeles and a candidate for the City Council, characterized the move.
A former member of the UC Board of Regents, Sheinbaum, 70, said Friday he was “horrified” by videotapes of the police beating of King and “appalled” at remarks by Gates disassociating himself from the incident.
“I worry about him,” Sheinbaum said of Gates. “Remarks of his, like he doesn’t care about people’s rights, I think, are very unfortunate. . . . Minorities have become fearful of him and those attitudes that he expresses, when they should feel protected by him.”
Sheinbaum said Bradley did not raise the issue of Gates’ future during a meeting earlier this week. He also said his name first had been introduced as a potential candidate before King’s beating, but that serious discussions about the post were conducted this week.
“I’m going to be my own man,” he said. “I have a level of intelligence which I intend to apply. I am not coming in with my guns drawn. . . . I am going to look at (Gates) closely.”
Sheinbaum’s appointment was recommended by black leaders who met with Bradley earlier this week, according to several who attended.
Times staff writer Henry Weinstein contributed to this report.