LA County Sheriff Cops a Plea to Covering Up Brutality in Prison—But They’re STILL Terrorizing the People

February 22, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

This past week, Lee Baca, former Los Angeles County Sheriff, copped a plea that he lied to the FBI when they were investigating brutality and civil rights violations in the LA County jail. Baca served as Sheriff from 1998 to 2014.

The LA Sheriff’s Department is the fourth largest policing agency in the U.S. with 18,000 paid employees, including 9,100 deputies. Plus they have an unpaid, volunteer staff of several thousand, including volunteer deputies. The LA Sheriff’s Department is assigned to police all unincorporated areas and cities in the county without a police force. They provide policing for more than 10 million people in Los Angeles County, and they are in charge of all county offices, including the courts, the LA transit system, the LA County jail system and more.

Yes there's a conspiracy, to get the cops off

Clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003 in the United States. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. This talk, followed by questions and answers, is a wide-ranging revolutionary journey, covering many topics. It breaks down the very nature of the society we live in and how humanity has come to a time where a radically different society is possible. It is full of heart and soul, humor and seriousness; it will challenge you and set your heart and mind to flight. Learn more about BA

In 2013, 18 current and former deputies were arrested for various crimes in the jail including beating inmates. (See “Brutality in the Dungeons of Los Angeles—This Must Be Stopped!” Since that time, 17 of them have been convicted and several more deputies are facing charges, including Paul Tanaka, the former second in command under Baca.

One of the incidents, which the Sheriff’s Department named “Operation Pandora’s Box,” was launched in 2011 and involved a prisoner informant who told the FBI about the vicious brutality in the jail. The FBI gave this informant a cell phone to document these abuses. When the deputies guarding the jail found out about this cell phone, they started moving the inmate from cell to cell, hiding him from the FBI. They changed his name in the records so the FBI could not find him. Once the FBI located him, they attempted to conduct an interview with him, but the department cut it short, not allowing the full interview to take place. Then deputies were sent to the home of one of the FBI investigators, with instructions to intimidate her and “do everything but put the handcuffs on her.”

At the time that all this information came out, Baca said he had no knowledge of it and denied any involvement whatsoever in this incident. He gave the standard cop explanation about why this and other illegal activities happened: that there are always few bad apples but 99 percent of his deputies, as well as him, “respect the criminal justice system.”

After Baca’s early retirement in January 2014, the FBI pushed for three counts of felony obstruction in this incident—that Baca had lied about hiding the prisoner, cutting the prisoner’s interview with the FBI short, and intimidating the FBI agent. Faced with several felony counts and a trial, Baca admitted that he had lied about these three things.

The essential role of the FBI and the feds has been to use this investigation to cover up the actual crimes committed. They allowed this pig—who the ACLU said “is in large part to blame” for the horrible crimes committed against inmates in LA County Jail—to plead to a charge that carries a maximum sentence of six months. The odds are that he will not serve one day in jail and will only be put on probation. This deal does not require that Baca testify in the upcoming trials—and it has kept Baca from being questioned about the other illegal activities that his deputies carried out in the jail.

These activities included having deputy recruits beat up and pepper spray mentally ill prisoners and prisoners who were considered to be “disrespectful"; beating relatives who were visiting inmates, including one who had his arm broken; the arrest and handcuffing of the Austrian consul general, who was visiting an Austrian inmate, even though the official had not committed any crime and despite the fact that foreign diplomatic officials are supposed to be immune from prosecution due to their legal status in the country.

Now you have the head of the fourth largest policing agency in the country convicted of obstructing justice and many more in the department already convicted and still more facing further charges.

So has anything changed since 2013?

Those incarcerated in the LA County jails are still subjected to brutal treatment. A report that was just released states that the use of force in the LA County Jail has increased 40 percent from 2014 to 2015, with many of the injuries to inmates being orbital (eye socket) and hand fractures. Plus the county has paid out millions of dollars to settle claims of excessive force against inmates.

There will be no justice from the Department of Justice

No! Nothing has changed.

LA Sheriff’s deputies are continuing to murder and terrorize people on the streets of Los Angeles County. In 2015, Los Angeles area cops killed more people than police anywhere else in the country, and the LA Sheriff’s Department was responsible for about one-third of those killings.

They murdered Terry Laffitte, 49 years old and the father of three daughters, when sheriffs attacked and killed him in his own backyard after they stopped him for riding his bicycle erratically as he pulled into the driveway where he lived. (See “South Central LA March Against Police Murder: ‘Justice for Terry Laffitte!’”) They murdered Cedric Oscar Ramirez when they stormed the house he was in. They murdered Noel Aguilar, shooting him in the back, after he was stopped for riding a bicycle while wearing headphones. They murdered Johnny Ray Anderson, who was unarmed and jumped over a fence because he thought the cops might arrest him. (See “Benny Anderson on the Police Murder of His Brother Johnny...” at

No! Nothing has changed.

It is unclear why the feds (the FBI) are going after the LA Sheriff’s Department. What is crystal clear is that the LA County Jail is a hellhole dungeon and that the brutality in that jail runs throughout the entire Sheriff’s Department. The brutality and civil rights violations have been condoned and even, in some cases, led by the very top levels of the department. So fuck that argument that “there only a few bad cops and that 99 percent of them are good.” No Baca, you all do what Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, says you do:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness. (BAsics 1:24)

All of these cops, including Baca, must be jailed. Jail the killer cops and jail those who brutalize prisoners, no matter what role they played in the process.

At the same time, we should not have any illusions that the feds, in going after the sheriffs, are on the side of the people and protecting people’s rights. The role of the FBI has been the opposite— wrote about that in “Lessons of the People’s Struggles: The FBI and the Feds—Not Friends but Vicious Enemies”: “There are bitter lessons from the history of the people’s struggle—from the civil rights movement to the righteous movements and uprisings of the ’60s to more recent history—that expose the reality behind claims that the FBI is protecting the rights of the people supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.” The article gets into a number of examples, including the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) that was unleashed on the Black Panther Party to destroy it and to discredit and murder its leaders, like Chicago Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.



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