1975.01.01: Cops Hit LA. Schools (Red Tide)

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]

The Red Tide, #15
January 1975

Cops Hit LA. Schools
[By Michael Letwin]

Los Angeles, December 3, 6 a.m. — An enormous police sweep hits 24 LA. high schools, arresting over 200 high students, branded as wholesale drug pushers, poisoning their victims’ mind, while greedily scooping in fat rolls of money. The sweep was coordinated between school administrators and police.


Since September, young looking policemen have been planted in various high schools, posing as dealers. When their $20,000 drug-buying funds were exhausted, they began to bust their contacts.

The arrested “pushers” were loaded into buses and taken down to Juvenile Hall. They were mugged, searched repeatedly, threatened and questioned to reveal more names. The officers down at Juvie didn’t hesitate to beat up a few of the “suspects” to serve as an example for everyone else.

Back at school, students grew increasingly upset and paranoid about who they are able to trust. Not to be outdone, the District Attorney, “liberal” black Mayor Bradley, and others demand that juveniles accused of certain crimes be held for days without chance of being released.


Students in L.A. schools did not sit still for this police action. A few days after the arrests, spontaneous demonstrations took place at Canoga Park, Venice, University and Palisades high schools, involving altogether thousands of students.

Culmination of these different walkouts came with a demonstration called by the Red Tide at the L.A. Board of Education, attended by about 75 young people from around the city on Dec. 11. At this demonstration, the following demands were put forward.


1). That the school administrations of all L.A. schools disclose publicly the names of all police agent on all campuses. If they refuse to do this, they should be kicked out of all the schools and put on the payroll of the police department, where they belong. We want an end to police control of our schools.

2). We want amnesty for all those arrested in the recent arrests, as their actions do not constitute a criminal offense, and an end to arrests on campus.

3). We call on the United Teachers of L.A., the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association and all of organized labor to oppose police on campus. Police are arresting, spying on and hassling students today. Tomorrow, they will do the same thing to teachers. The police have always been on the side of government and big business, and against the interests of working people. We call on teachers to cease to be accomplices of the police.

4). We call for an and to police day-to-day harassment of the black and Chicano schools and community, something which is not new, but rather which has been in effect for years.


Last October, the L.A.P.D. and the L.A. Board of Education launched a new policy affecting all 49 high schools in the district. The Board instructed the police to pick up any young people off campus during school hours without a “sufficient” pass and identification and to take them either to the school they attend or to the police station. At school, the student will be interrogated and punished by the school dean, or if taken to the station will be held until their parents come to pick them up.

The schools that have always been hit the hardest by police sweeps are those in South Central and East L.A., the black and Chicano schools of the city. It is at these schools that droves of marked and unmarked police cars swoop down upon anyone they feel like hassling, taking people in right and left.

This new policy is in addition to the already exiting force of armed “security guards” and regular police rounds. Anyone who goes to these schools knows that this is nothing new. It’s just another fact of life.

However the new policy marks a significant escalation in the police plague. Students all over are complaining that the police presence is worse than it has been in some time.


The policy is justified by the Board and the cops with the excuse that it protects the students and the community from gang violence. Everyone knows that there is a problem with gang violence. The causes of that problem are unemployment; deteriorating, stifling schools with their repressive policies; and a need to feel that you have some power in the world.

The solution to gangs is to build a real alternative movement which can fight. The worst gang, however, is the police. They exist in this society to keep the rich in power and they have the license of the government to carry guns, make arrests, and if they wish, to kill people. No other gang in the schools has this power.


Police are a permanent feature of this society. The people in power want to make sure they keep that power. That’s why they have police.

But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done. The Red Tide has been leafleting and holding meetings at schools around the city, talking to people about what has been going on, and what can be done to stop it. The response we have received from most has been clear: the police must be stopped!

Even at the small outdoor meetings which we held, police took our pictures, stopped and interrogated us, and attempted to intimidate us from continuing our activity. But already students have won a victory throughout their actions. The police have been put on notice that students won’t stand for their behavior.

They have been put on notice that if they continue their actions they will pay a price. So far, that price has included a couple of banged up cop cars, large student demonstrations and a reputation that is bad and getting worse.

If you’re angry and you want to do something, contact us, The Red Tide, P.O. Box 64402, Los Angeles, Calif. 90064


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