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SUBVERSIVE INFLUENCES IN RIOTS, LOOTING,
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 1967
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
The subcommittee of the Committee on Un-American Activities met, pursuant to recess, at 10 a.m., in Room 311, Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C., Hon. Edwin E. Willis (chairman) presiding.
(Subcommittee members: Representatives Edwin E. Willis, of Louisiana, chairman; William M. Tuck, of Virginia; Richard H. Ichord, of Missouri; John M. Ashbrook, of Ohio; and Albert W. Watson, of South Carolina ; also John C. Ćulver, of Iowa, in absence of Mr. Willis.)
Subcommittee members present: Representatives Willis, Tuck, and Ichord.
Staff members present: Francis J. McNamara, director; Chester D. Smith, general counsel; Alfred M. Nittle, counsel; Donald T. Appell, chief investigator; and William A. Wheeler, investigator.
The CHAIRMAN. The subcommittee will come to order.
Do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mayor YORTY. I do.
TESTIMONY OF HON. SAM YORTY, MAYOR OF
LOS ANGELES, CALIF.1
Mr. McNAMARA. Will you state your full name, address, and occupation for the record, please?
Mayor YORTY. Sam Yorty, Los Angeles, California.
1 Mayor Yorty, because of other commitments, was unable to testify during the initial phase of the committee's hearings in October. However, because he, like Mr. Evelle J. Younger, Mr. Adrian H. Jones, and Mr. Herman D. Lerner, was asked to testify as an authority on the subject of subversive influences in rioting,' his testimony is included in part 1 of the hearings.
The CHAIRMAN. Let the record show, as everyone here knows, that Mr. Yorty was for a long time a distinguished Member of the House from California. Mayor YORTY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. I worked hand in glove with him for years and years. I look back with pleasure to those years.
By the way, Mayor, where is Norris Poulson? He was also a colleague of ours. Mayor YORTY. Norris Poulson?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes. 'Mayor YORTY. He is living down at La Jolla. Unfortunately, he had some kind of injury to his voice, and it never cleared up. So, he has a very difficult time speaking. Otherwise, he is fine.
The CHAIRMAN. All right, Mr. McNamara.
Mr. McNAMARA. Will you give the committee a brief résumé of your background, please, Mayor? Mayor YORTY. Yes. By profession, an attorney at law. I first served in the California Legislature way back in 1936–1940.
I was an intelligence officer in the Air Force in 1942 to 1945 and again in the California Legislature in 1949 and a Member of Congress in 1950 to 1954 and mayor of Los Angeles since 1961.
Mr. McNAMARA. You referred, Mr. Mayor, to your service in the California Legislature in the 1930's. Did your duties in the legislature at that time develop in you any particular interest in the subject of communism?
Mayor YORTY. Yes. Those were the days of, I think, one of the most successful united front periods of the Communist Party, U.S.A. They had succeeded in infiltrating very heavily into at least one department of the State government, the Relief Department. It was so bad that I created the first State committee to investigate Un-American Activities by my resolution; of course, the legislature created it but it was my resolution, in 1939.
I was appointed chairman of the committee, and for 2 years we conducted a rather vigorous investigation which ultimately resulted in just abolishing the agency. It was so badly infiltrated we could not clean it out. We abolished it and turned the administration of relief over to the counties of the State rather than the State. Of course, I wrote a report in 1940 of our activities which I will be happy to let you have for the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. The report will be received for our files.
(Document marked “Yorty Exhibit No. 1” and retained in committee files.)
Mr. McNAMARA. The committee in which you played a leading role in organizing, Mayor Yorty, is still existing; is that not correct?
Mayor YORTY. It exists now as a senate committee, but when I was chairman it was a committee of the State assembly. After I left the legislature, it became a State senate committee and it has gone on and continued its work; yes.
Mr. McNAMARA. Ever since those days in the thirties, have you maintained a more than casual interest in the subject of communism?
Mayor YORTY. Yes. I have maintained an interest in their activities. They have certainly maintained an interest in mine.
Mr. McNAMARA. I would like to state for the record, Mr. Chairman, that the committee, as you know, originally hoped to have Mayor Yorty testify in the initial phase of our hearings along with Mr. Adrian H. Jones, Mr. Herman D. Lerner, and Mr. Evelle J. Younger, who testified as authorities on the subject of rioting in general. Unfortunately, Mayor Yorty 'had other commitments at that time and could not appear. This is the first day on which we have had any hearings since then that he was free to testify before the committee.
Mayor Yorty, as mayor of one of the largest cities in the country, what, in your opinion, are some of the underlying factors which have caused the riots which we have seen take place in the last few years?
Mayor YORTY. I would think, Mr. Chairman, that it would be very hard in a relative order to name all the factors. But, because of the scope of this committee's hearing, I think that it would not be helpful to you to dwell at length on the social causes, such as discrimination, and upon some of the difficulties suffered by the minority people in the economic field, and so forth.
But I think for this committee I would certainly say that one of the factors is the constant repetition of subversive propaganda, the agitation, and propaganda conducted by the Communist Party within the framework of their historic objective to break down the respect for government, certainly for law and order, and to personalize, as they always do, this objective mainly in the police officer.
Mr. McNAMARA. Based on your experience, Mr. Mayor, do you believe that these riots which have taken place have been spontaneous or planned?
Mayor YORTY. I think that there are some of both. I think that there has been a broad propaganda campaign to create the right atmosphere for a violent opposition to law and order.
(At this point, Mr. Ashbrook entered the hearing room.)
The CHAIRMAN. What you say with reference to your State, Mayor, that what happened in Watts is what occurred with reference to New York City-Harlem. An atmosphere certainly was created which was ripe for riots. By “created,” I mean created by subversive elements.
Mayor YORTY. I believe that. I think that the propaganda over the years has been so constant and at times very effective, at times not quite so effective, but over the years it has been effective so that you create an atmosphere where a riot may break out spontaneously, in appearance, but actually where there has been a great groundwork laid for it.
I also think there are some riots where subversive forces have actually planned, perhaps only a demonstration as far as the general participants know, but where subversive elements would plan incidents that they would hope would spark a riot.
Incidentally, at this point, Mr. Chairman, perhaps you would be interested in this little folder which we put out in Los Angeles, entitled “The Big Lie.” This is just a short history of the charge of police brutality, mainly in our community, but also nationally. The charge, of course, is contained in Communist publications such as The Worker and, on the West Coast, the People's World.
The first one we have listed here, but certainly not the first one where the charge has ever been made, is in 1946, called “Police terrorism.” It says, "Negro is brutally beaten while shopping with family.” Now, that is 21 years ago that this was published on the West Coast in the People's World.
Then I think it is interesting to skip up here to a later one, 1964, in The Worker. It says, “Police Brutality to Be Detroit Election Issue.”
Then again in 1965, in The Worker, “Negro Lad Is Latest Victim in Detroit of Trigger-Happy Cop."
So, for 21 years, by this little record that we have developed, we have had this agitation against the police department to inflame the people against the police.
I think this is part of the background of things that are happening in the country today. We have enough of these folders for all the members of the committee and the press, if they are interested.
Mr. McNAMARA. Mr. Chairman, I would like to request that the Mayor Yorty report, “The Big Lie,” which he has just described, be accepted for the hearing record as Yorty Exhibit No. 2.
Mr. ASHBROOK. Do you have copies?