Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Tirade by Compton Mayor Told

September 13, 1997|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Compton Mayor Omar Bradley, enraged that a personal check for his son's tuition had been rejected at a firefighter training program, stormed into a Compton fire station and unleashed an obscenity-laced tirade at officials that was heard in a classroom filled with 60 students, witnesses said.

After kicking in the door to an office next to the classroom, witnesses said, a shirtless Bradley shouted at the officials: "Are you all out of your [expletive] minds? I'm the [expletive] mayor, and you will respect me!"

The Sept. 6 incident occurred as Bradley's son, Omar Jr., and dozens of other cadets were preparing to begin orientation for the six-month training program at the James Shern Fire Academy.

The state-accredited, tuition-supported program is run out of a Compton fire station, training students to become reserve firefighters. A letter sent to each cadet before registration explained that the $600 academy tuition had to be paid with cash, a cashier's check or a money order. The younger Bradley, 20, brought a personal check.

Two instructors who were processing cadets said they did not look at the name on the check and told the mayor's son to return with cash or a money order. Omar Jr. left and about an hour later, about 2 p.m., returned with his father and the mayor's bodyguard. The elder Bradley burst into the station wearing shorts but no shirt, entered the adjacent office and launched into his abusive tongue lashing, witnesses said.

*

Several people who were present prepared written recollections of the incident.

"Who sent my [expletive] son home and told him my check was no good?" a female witness' account quoted Bradley as saying.

As fire officials tried to calm the mayor down, the statement said, he yelled: "When a man's check is not good in his own [expletive] place then there is a serious problem in Compton, because I own all of this [expletive]!"

A statement from academy administrator and Compton Fire Capt. Jon Thompson said Bradley began saying that "this was his fire station, his fire academy, and any time he wanted to he could shut it down and that he would."

At least three other students tried unsuccessfully to pay their tuition with checks, Compton firefighter Dwayne Preston said in his statement. Preston and others in the fire station tried to calm the mayor without success.

*

When fire officials told Bradley, 39, that they were required to treat his son the same as the other cadets, witnesses said, the mayor replied: "Whether you want to believe it or not, we're not the same. Everyone on top gets their palm greased."

The mayor's rage appeared to stem from what he saw as a lack of respect accorded him as Compton's chief executive.

"You know I get no respect in Compton," the female witness quoted Bradley as saying. "Do you know how it feels to have the police stop you, feel all over your [genitals] and humiliate you even though you are the [expletive] mayor?"

That was an apparent reference to a May incident in which Bradley was pulled over by two female sheriff's deputies. He complained to county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke that the deputies sexually harassed him. County officials said Bradley never filed a formal complaint.

Others who were present during Bradley's outburst in the fire station wrote that the mayor made obscene gestures and grabbed his crotch as he ranted.

Capt. Thompson said Bradley shouted that he had "instructed Compton police officers to pull over Supervisor Yvonne Burke whenever she was in the city . . . to grab her [genitals] while checking her."

Compton Police Lt. Danny Sneed said Thursday that Bradley had not issued such an order.

Burke, who administered Bradley's oath of office, expressed disbelief that he would make such statements and demanded a personal apology.

"I don't know how anyone in their right mind would blame me for something a sheriff's deputy does on the street," she said. "I would never have believed this had happened. It is bizarre."

The incident was not the first time Bradley has lashed out in public.

*

At a City Council meeting in 1993, he scolded the late rap artist Eazy-E, telling him that he was being exploited by people who were ruining the image of blacks while "having a bar mitzvah at the same time."

The mayor later apologized.

Bradley is in Washington and did not respond Friday to several messages left with his staff. Compton City Manager Howard Caldwell said Friday in a telephone interview from Washington that the mayor's version of events differs from the witnesses' statements, but declined to elaborate.

Sources said the reserve firefighter training program may be moved from Compton in the wake of Bradley's disruption. Compton Fire Battalion Chief Larry Hall said the academy would offer its classes even if it had to move.

"I can't see a reason why it shouldn't," Hall said. "All these young people want to get this training. I think it'd be better if people focused on that. All this other stuff, you can call it politics if you want to."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|