Badges worn by police for former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates' funeral
Hundreds of law enforcement officers and civic leaders from across the region paid final respects to former Los Angeles police Chief Daryl Gates, whose funeral was held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels today. (Audio: KPCC's Shirley Jahad talks to Frank Stoltze as he brings us a live report from former Chief Daryl Gate's funeral procession in downtown L.A.)
Updated 11:21 a.m. | Permalink
Thousands of Los Angeles police officers accompanied Gates' casket through downtown Los Angeles. It was led by between 50 and 100 motorcycle officers, followed by bagpipers.
Some of the family walked along in front of the hearse carrying Gates' casket. Behind that, was Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chief Charlie Beck and the entire command staff of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Numbers were initially expected to be in the thousands. While not in the thousands, hundreds of police did attend. Gates was beloved by cops, and he was a staunch defender of police, but many paid their respects yesterday in a closed casket viewing at police headquarters. Today's group was smaller.
Downtown traffic was affected, with many streets blocked off by the procession. The area immediately surrounding the civic center was the worst. It choked things up more than usual on the 101 and the 110 freeways.
Updated 6:35 a.m. | Permalink
Starting about 8:35 a.m., Gates' casket will be escorted from police headquarters to the cathedral a few blocks away, and a private funeral will be held about 9 a.m.
Following the funeral, an honors ceremony will be held in the cathedral plaza that will be open to the public.
Gates, who was chief from 1978 to 1992, died April 16 at his Dana Point home at age 83 from cancer.
While Gates was popular among rank-and-file officers for most of his 14-year tenure as chief, some people saw him as a symbol of repression in parts of the city that erupted into rioting in 1992 when four white police officers were acquitted in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.
Gates, personable and outspoken, was credited with taking the reins of a corrupt department and professionalizing it. He started the first police SWAT team and the widely adopted anti-drug program DARE.
And though he worked under one of the nation's first big-city black mayors – Tom Bradley was also a colleague in the police department as both men moved up the ranks – Gates became a lightning rod for racial politics in his latter years as chief.
He was infamous for over-the-top remarks, once saying that casual drug users should be shot. He also was pilloried for suggesting that black people were somehow physiologically more prone to dying in police chokeholds.
Gates' career intersected some of the most headline-grabbing events in city history, including the Marilyn Monroe death investigation in 1962, the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968 and the riots of 1965 and 1992.
Under pressure from the mayor and City Council, Gates resigned June 28, 1992.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck called Gates "one in a million."
"He inspired others to succeed and, in doing so, changed the landscape of law enforcement around the world," Beck said.
Gates was born Aug. 30, 1926. He grew up in Glendale and Highland Park in Los Angeles.
After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy for a two-year tour and later earned degrees from USC.
He joined the police department on Sept. 16, 1949 and eventually became a driver for then-Chief William Parker – a relationship that helped him move up through the ranks and eventually land the department's top job in 1978. Gates had been battling prostate cancer that spread to his bladder, and he spent much of the last few months in and out of a hospital.
"It was a courageous fight on his part and it was a courageous fight by all the family members that stood by him," said his brother, Steven Gates. "Also for those that knew him, knew him to be a very decent and kind man, a caring man."