The Los Angeles Police Department wants to be trusted. It proposes to map the city and pinpoint Muslim communities that "may be susceptible to violent, ideologically based extremism," but it also doesn't want anyone to worry that it will pick on individuals or stereotype groups based on their religion or national origin. Rather, the department insists that it will "take a deeper look at the history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic breakdown, socioeconomic status and social interactions" that define L.A.
We recognize that today's LAPD is a far cry from the one that turned its "Red Squad" against liberals in the early decades of the 20th century, that allowed soldiers to beat young Latino men in the 1940s during the so-called Zoot Suit Riots, that spied on political opponents through the 1960s and 1970s -- including such fringe figures as the mayor. It has evolved from the LAPD that antagonized blacks and Latinos through the 1980s with excessive force, gang sweeps and aggressive car stops, including the routine "proning out" of young men on the pavement. One victim of that practice was none other than Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., who would go on to make the LAPD wish it had treated him better.