@THE GUSS REPORT-Maya Angelou wrote, “the first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
For many Angelenos, their first experience with LAPD Chief Michel Moore was his delusional comment last week about racial strife and riots amid the George Floyd protests:
“We didn’t have protests last night. We had criminal acts. We didn’t have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd. We had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands as much as it is those officers.”
Through the Angelou lens, Moore thinks all of us are equally responsible for Floyd’s murder. I don’t know what video he saw, but I didn’t see any of you restraining and murdering Floyd in the one that I watched.
Moore subsequently apologized for his racially insensitive remarks but disingenuously suggested that his word choice was the mistake. But this wasn’t a poorly chosen word or two. It was a lucid-but-absurd five-sentence reveal that goes to the heart of the troubled agency he leads; one with a long history of racism, violence and killing of unarmed black, brown, and poor people.
Floyd, a handcuffed and unarmed (as opposed to disarmed) Black man died by suffocation a couple of weeks ago at the hands, or knee rather, of a Minneapolis police officer who was subsequently arrested and charged with murder. Three other officers, including two who were brand new to the job, were also fired and later charged with related but lower-level murder counts.
Moore is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to not only lead the LAPD but also avoid doing stupid things like this. He is paid to know the score, be in the right place at the right time and do the right thing, as it were.
Moore failed LA in each of those responsibilities.
Moore and the entire LAPD Commission should watch Spike Lee’s movie of the same title because it is art foreshadowing the George Floyd and Eric Garner murders by decades.
Moore’s remarks are a bell that cannot be un-rung and in fact will be re-rung each time the LAPD kills another unarmed black, brown or poor person, which history tells us is always around the bend in LA.
To be clear, I do not know whether Michel Moore harbors racist opinions. What I do know is that he ignores warning signs of trouble at the LAPD. When I brought to his attention a series of serious threats and abuses that his officers made toward me (on video, no less), he remained silent. He ignored the problem and refused to apologize even after I sued the LAPD and Mike Feuer’s LA City Attorney’s office and recently won $10,836.
So the question of the day is this: If I, a white suburbanite, was treated that way by Moore, how can those whose only difference is more melanin in their skin trust him when they complain about LAPD abuses?
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, who made a pandering, disingenuous public spectacle of taking a Colin Kaepernick-like knee with protestors shortly after he approved massive raises for the LAPD, surprisingly aligns himself with Moore, saying, “If I believed for a moment that the chief believed that in his heart, he would no longer be our chief of police. I can’t say that any stronger.”
But it is well-established that Garcetti speaks out of both sides of every orifice and cannot be taken at his word. Garcetti’s motive for standing by Moore is this: he hired him. And it would be oh-so-bad to fire him while serving as Joe Biden’s presidential campaign co-chair five months before the election because it draws further scrutiny to Biden’s racist statements about Barack Obama; his anti-black crime bill and “you ain’t black” remark which he recently made to Charlamagne tha God, co-host of nationally syndicated radio program, The Breakfast Club with DJ Envy and Angela Yee.
In other words, Moore’s misconduct is bad for politics no matter how you slice it.
Moore also failed LA for the consequence of donning his battle gear and leaving the LAPD’s emergency operations center to do media interviews in the street during the chaos, instead of maintaining oversight of a riot that became increasingly violent and destructive by the hour. A source deeply embedded in City Hall culture tells me, “The Chief needed to be at the command center for situational awareness so he can see the entire city and communicate with neighboring jurisdictions for mutual aid if needed. This was a ‘make the Mayor and Union happy photo-op’ to show the boots on the ground their so-called leadership. However, any seasoned officer will tell you that once you are in the weeds as Moore was, you lose the bird’s eye view. When Moore did that, the chaos got worse.”
The offices currently held by Garcetti and Moore have a well-established history of racism, especially during the tenure of their predecessors Sam Yorty and Daryl Gates, respectively. Garcetti brushing aside Moore’s remarks furthers the belief that racism is rewarded in LA City Hall and LAPD headquarters.
Angelou, whose birthday coincides with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., passed away six years to the day, one day before these 2020 riots.
Garcetti hired Moore to lead the LAPD a few years ago after Moore, then LAPD’s Chief of Operations, bagged $1.27 million in the city’s controversial DROP retirement program, returning as Chief shortly thereafter in an orchestrated retirement and re-hiring masquerading as a search for the best person for the job.
Garcetti decided that in an agency with thousands of people from every ethnicity, gender and skin tone, the best person for the job was another out-of-touch straight white male millionaire with a propensity to say racially insensitive things.
On Friday, Garcetti trotted out Moore for a groveling apology tour, though this photo shows that Moore has no regard for social distancing or wearing a face mask that Garcetti ordered the rest of us to don in public, or else. Note: Moore didn’t pull down a mask to speak; he wasn’t wearing one at all but wears one to virtue signal when he stands behind the mayor at his recent press conferences.
It furthers the widely held belief that cops are above the law, even on the little things. And note all of the non-white people properly assembled behind Moore.
Just a coincidence, I’m sure. . .
Our local governments think we’re idiots who can’t read between the lines, so they orchestrate disingenuous visuals.
Max De Pree, author of Leadership is an Art, said, “we cannot become what we need to, by remaining what we are.” The LAPD cannot cure itself with Moore at its helm. He should do LA a favor and swallow his pride, quietly re-retire and collect his lucrative pension dough without saying another word before the next black, brown or poor person is killed by those he leads.
Moore, Garcetti and LAPD Commission president Eileen Decker, a former federal prosecutor, refused to field live questions for this column.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal,