Thu, Jun

City Hall: The Great LA Hypocrisy


-As I watched Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, berate Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, for racist remarks that he made I could only shake my head. Was Mayor Garcetti completely ignorant of the institutional racism that has marked City Hall for the last 30 years old or was he just another hypocritical politician? 

The individual racism displayed by Mr. Sterling pales in comparison to the institutional racism that has been demonstrated by the City of Los Angeles in numerous ways for more than thirty years. I speak of these three decades because I am directly familiar with the behavior of the City during this time. I was one of the victims and one of the targets.  The consequence of this cannot be minimized nor ignored. The dramatic effect upon minority citizens within Los Angeles has been devastating. 

One of the most brazen displays of this institutional racism occurred in the early 1980’s.  The decision by Los Angeles to deny access to technology to the citizens of South Central Los Angeles would require the City to spend more than $10 million to enforce its racism. 

By delaying access to cable television, for more than 10 years in South Central the residents would be left behind in the age of technology.  The discrimination was blatant but unknown to those who did not have honest media access. By what criteria could a city have chosen to deny the most impoverished and undereducated citizens the one thing that could bring them out of the economic doldrums?  

The behavior by the City Los Angeles was so egregious that federal lawsuits would be necessary to prove the unconstitutional practices and the denial of basic civil rights in South Central Los Angeles.  Other sections of the city would receive cable while the benefits of technology would be denied those who needed it most, the half million citizens of South Central. 

While the individual bigotry of Donald Sterling may be reprehensible, the systemic   racism demonstrated by the City Los Angeles is even more damaging. This institutional racism has contributed to the economic decline as well as the educational decline that continues to ravage South Central and the black citizens of Los Angeles.  This is the deadly effect of institutional racism.  

While berating Sterling, Mayor Garcetti seems to conveniently ignore that in 1986 the City of Los Angeles was on the losing end of a unanimous United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Preferred Communications vs The City of Los Angeles.  Despite a clear mandate from the Supreme Court the City would still refuse to abide by the Constitution. 

The 1st Amendment violations and racist policies of the City would create a permanent underclass brought about by the lack of accessibility to the new technology that was being developed throughout the United States. Every other section of the city of Los Angeles would receive this technology many years before South Central would have any access to it. 

Although Mayor Garcetti was only in grade school when these events took place, his father was integral in unchecked and nefarious actions in Los Angeles City Hall. Evidence of political corruption, collected by the LAPD, among members of the Los Angeles City Council were simply brushed under the table by Gil Garcetti and his staff. In one letter Gil Garcetti stated that he could not prosecute cases against a Los Angeles City Councilman and his deputy because they refused to cooperate in their own investigation and prosecution. Since when has the prosecution of a criminal relied upon the criminal assisting in the investigation of his own crimes? 

The unchecked proliferation of gangs was encouraged, by the glorification of criminal life in music videos shown on cable television.  Without community input into what would be on their television cable created programming to maximize their monopoly profits.  The mass media conglomerates would make a fortune while the citizens would suffer the wrath of deadly gang violence that continues until this very day.  

All attempts by members of the community to provide alternatives, to this programming, were crushed by the City of Los Angeles. History will show that the denial of access to cable television for more than a decade has had dramatic long-term negative effects on the most impoverished community in Los Angeles. 


(Author Clinton Galloway (photo above) details the entire story of the hustle, the demands, threats in his fascinating book “Anatomy of a Hustle: Cable Comes to South Central LA”. This is the second of a series on power, influence and corruption in government. Galloway can be reached here.






Vol 12 Issue 46

Pub: June 6, 2014


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