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Gates Reply

December 22, 1988

In an Op-Ed article (Dec. 7) Henry W. McGee Jr. launched a very colorful personalized attack against me. Words he used to describe me included arrogant, defiant, intimidating, insensitive and insufferable.

Henry W. McGee Jr. was described as a professor at the UCLA School of Law and a former prosecutor in Chicago. Even though one or two of his adjectives may fit on occasion, he and I do not know each other. Maybe lawyers from Chicago just do not like police chiefs from Los Angeles. If such were the extent of it, I would not bother to respond.

But UCLA law professors worthy of the title are able to distinguish between rules of law and their own personal hang-ups. McGee failed to make the distinction when he equated the officers who served a search warrant at Jesse Larez's house in 1986 with the Ku Klux Klan of 1866 in the deep South.

What he and Times readers need to know is that several of the officers who participated in serving the Larez warrant are Latino. They were carrying out a court order to search for a firearm that had been used to murder a Latino victim. The officers were trying to protect a predominantly Latino neighborhood. Their activity and their purpose do not evoke images of the Ku Klux Klan in the minds of an objective, informed observer.

While serving the warrant, the officers were physically attacked by members of the Larez family.

I publicly defended those officers. McGee viewed my comments in defense of them through his own veil of prejudice. Then he concluded that for my public comments in defense of those officers, I should be fined $170,000 in the name of "minority rights."

I am not a lawyer from Chicago or a professor from UCLA, but I believe that we all have the same rights, including those provided by the First Amendment. I recommend that Prof. McGee read the First Amendment. He should not try to teach it yet--just read it.


Chief of Police, Los Angeles

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