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Countdown to Watts

August 2, 2007 |  6:11 am



Aug. 1-7, 1957
Los Angeles

A search through The Times for early August reveals several stories about Chief William H. Parker being honored for 30 years service with the Los Angeles Police Department. In a luncheon at the Biltmore Bowl hosted by actor George Murphy, 800 business and community leaders paid tribute to Parker.

There was also a story about the California Supreme Court reversing a decision that upheld Parker's use of listening devices in surveillance. "It is elementary that public officials must themselves obey the law," the Supreme Court said.

But oddly enough, there is not a word about the NAACP brutality suits against Parker and the Police Department.

We must turn to the California Eagle, a weekly serving the African American community, for news that Parker had been subpoenaed in the case. The Eagle noted that the class-action suits seeking $500,000 in damages had been given "the 'blackout' treatment" by the daily press, radio and TV. The NAACP was weighing whether to buy air time on radio stations to publicize the case, the Eagle said.

Attorney George L. Vaughn Jr., head of the local NAACP's Legal Redress Committee, added two more plaintiffs, for a total of 10, the Eagle said.

According to the Eagle, two hod carriers, Thomas Jefferson, 22, 2180 E. 101st St., and Joe Thompson, 24, 4051 S. Halldale, were arrested April 28 during what was apparently a traffic stop.

"When they complained about the handcuffs being too tight, they state that Officers Graham and Dent of the 77th Street police station began beating them with their nightsticks, insulting them with obscene epithets and telling them that 'We're going to show you how we treat niggers in Louisiana!' " the Eagle said.

When Jefferson and Thompson asked to see a sergeant at the 77th Street station, they were beaten again, charged with grand theft, held overnight and released, the Eagle said.

The white media's conspiracy of silence continued.

Interesting note: According to the State Bar of California, George Louis Vaughn Jr. graduated from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., and Washington University Law School in St. Louis, Mo. He was admitted to the bar in 1955 and suspended in 1960. He received public reprovals in 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1980. He was disbarred in 1985.

In 1970, he was apparently appointed as a lawyer for attorney Paul Fitzgerald, who was representing Patricia Krenwinkel in the Manson family trial.

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