In the largest and loudest rally in the 5-week-old police beating controversy, Jesse Jackson and a host of local politicians led a march Saturday to police headquarters demanding the ouster of Chief Daryl Gates.
Behind the scenes, aides to Mayor Tom Bradley were preparing for a court confrontation pitting the mayor against the City Council over who has the ultimate control of the Police Department.A Los Angeles Times poll published Saturday concluded a majority of city residents see political motives instead of civic concern behind Bradley's call for Gates to resign in the wake of the videotaped beating of Rodney King.
The poll also found that while 58 percent of residents surveyed approved of the Police Commission's decision Thursday to place Gates on a leave of absence, they remain sharply divided over whether Gates should resign.
The City Council voted Friday to block the commission action, setting up a possible court confrontation Monday.
"Serious questions have been raised over whether the City Council has the authority to act the way it did," said Bill Chandler, a Bradley spokesman.
He said the mayor's office was involved in "a number of discussions," but declined to elaborate on who or what agency was participating, other than to say there were "other interested parties in this issue."
At a rally on the lawn in front of police headquarters, Jackson borrowed a line from a speech by President Bush condemning Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
"My friends," Jackson said, "we must draw a line and stop naked aggression against American citizens."
Jackson called the March 3 beating of King at the hands of two dozen police officers a "baton lynching" and blamed Gates. Recounting several Gates statements deemed insulting to many women and minorities, Jackson said: "He is driven by the power of intimidation. We live in a democracy. We deserve better than that."
The mostly black crowd of about 1,000 cheered loudly and chanted "Gates Must Go."
The beating of King, captured on videotape by an amateur cameraman and televised around the world, has created a national furor over racism and police brutality.