Fuhrman: Play the Tapes Again!

Revolutionary Worker #896, March 2, 1997

Did you turn on the TV talk shows last week? Hour after hour, there was the notorious racist L.A. police detective Mark Fuhrman freely running out his views--on police work, the OJ trial, race issues, justice and his own disgrace. There was Larry King giving Mark Fuhrman a warm, two-handed, goodbye handshake. There was Diane Sawyer interviewing Fuhrman intently--as if his thoughts deserved attention and respect. There was his appearance on Oprah, where Oprah herself admitted that people in her TV audience did not even want to be associated with Fuhrman, and then she proceeded to give much credibility to Fuhrman and his tale of previously unreported "evidence."

No matter how much people think OJ committed the murders, this media rehabilitation of Fuhrman is an outrage. What possible excuse can there be for parading around this racist cop as a viewpoint worth hearing?

In fact, the answer to this question is revealing. Why indeed have they brought Fuhrman back from exile in his white supremacist enclave of Idaho?

It is because the rehabilitation of Mark Fuhrman boosts the rehabilitation of the police, especially the Los Angeles police. A crucial issue in the whole OJ Simpson trial was the whole issue of the DELIBERATE MANUFACTURING OF EVIDENCE BY POLICE. The idea of a police frameup has been ridiculed and mocked. What, the commentators and "legal experts" kept saying, would be the motive? Why would even a racist cop, they asked, persecute OJ Simpson, who was so `non-threatening,' wealthy and assimilated into the mainstream. How, they kept saying, would such a frameup be possible to cover up?

And yet, the commentators and police spokesmen were trying to say this at the very same time when evidence of all kinds was coming out in cities all across the country--Philadelphia, New Orleans, New York City, Chicago, and more, including Los Angeles--that there are literally thousands of cases in which the police had precisely planted evidence and, in other ways, framed people--including by beating people into forced confessions.

Mark Fuhrman stood at the center of this exposure--because here was a key detective in the OJ investigation who was pinned down as a proven racist. It was Fuhrman after all who was early on the murder scene, who claimed he found blood in the Bronco, who climbed the fence illegally to enter Simpson's estate and then claimed to find a bloody glove lying out in the open.

On the stand Fuhrman denied that he had said the "n-word" in years. But thirteen hours of tapes surfaced--recording interviews Fuhrman had given to Laura McKinny between 1985 and 1994 as part of a movie project. They showed in detail how Fuhrman and his fellow cops hated Black people, Mexicans and women--even Black people and women on the police force. Here was a man who belonged to an organization called "Men Against Women" that harassed women on the police force. Throughout the tapes, Fuhrman uses the "n-word" to refer to Black people--40 times in 61 excerpts selected by the defense. He uses the word casually--it is how he thinks about Black people. The tapes contain 18 examples of Fuhrman admitting to illegal use of deadly force, beating suspects to extract confessions, planting evidence, framing innocent people and lying or covering up the misconduct of other cops.

In the trial it came out that people who knew Fuhrman had heard him say that he couldn't stand the sight of a Black man and white woman together and when he encountered such a situation he made a point of harassing the Black man. A letter from Kathleen Bell, sent to Simpson's defense team, described what Fuhrman had told her: "When he sees a `n*gger' (as he called it) driving with a white woman, he would pull them over. I asked, would he if he didn't have a reason, and he said that he would find one."

Yet, after all this, TV commentators still constantly ask, "What would be the motive for framing OJ Simpson?" They deliberately ignore and hide that the evidence documents Detective Fuhrman's special hatred for Black men (like Simpson) who drove expensive cars, moved into privileged white neighborhoods, and dated white women. Meanwhile, there has been mounting evidence from all over the country that such police harassment--and even murder--of professional and middle class Black men is common.

These tapes answered the question, "What would be the motive for a frameup?" And the tapes answered the question, "How could such a frameup be covered up?"

It was very damaging for the police, the state apparatus and for the system that these things came to light around the criminal trial. They want it buried. And now, after the second trial, Mark Fuhrman, an admitted manufacturer of evidence, is being paraded before the camera--with tales of "evidence" that he claims to have discovered which was never heard in the criminal trial.

But the truth has already come out for millions to see--and we can't let people forget: the Rodney King video was the movie, and the Fuhrman tapes were the soundtrack. Whatever people may think about OJ Simpson's involvement in the murders, there can be no justice in allowing the system to bring back Mark Fuhrman.

That is why we are reprinting excerpts from the Fuhrman tapes. It is infuriating to hear all this again--but it is necessary to reprint it, because the system is working so hard to have everyone unlearn what these tapes reveal.

On the arrest of a man in the Westwood neighborhood

"He was a n*gger. He didn't belong. Two questions. And you are going: Where do you live? 22nd and Western. Where were you going? Well, I'm going to Fatburger. Where's Fatburger. He didn't know where Fatburger was? Get in the car."

On criteria for stopping cars

"N*gger drivin' a Porsche that doesn't look like he's got a $300 suit on, you always stop him."

On where he grew up in Washington state

"People there don't want n*ggers in their town. People there don't want Mexicans in their town. They don't want anybody but good people in their town, and anyway you can do to get them out of there that's fine with them. We have no n*ggers where I grew up."

On L.A. neighborhoods

"Westwood is gone, the n*ggers have discovered it. When they start moving into Redondo and Torrance. Torrance is considered the last white middle class society."

On the LAPD chokehold

"We stopped the choke because a bunch of n*ggers have a bunch of these organizations in the south end and because all n*ggers were choked out and killed--twelve in ten years."

On changes in the LAPD

"That we've got females...and dumb n*ggers, and all your Mexicans that can't even write the name of the car they drive."

On using suspects to practice martial arts kicks

"I used to go to work and practice movements....I used to practice my kicks.

On police misconduct investigations

"Now, it's funny because guys in Internal Affairs go, `Mark, you can do just about anything. Get in a bar fight. We'd love to investigate just some `good ol boy' beating up a n*gger in a bar."

On brutalizing suspects during interrogations

"Why don't you give them the 77th lie detector test? [The "77th" refers to the LAPD division in South Central L.A. where Fuhrman worked for many years]...And a bunch of guys will laugh--old timers, you know. And then one kid will ask his partner, `what's that?' You choke him out until he tells you the truth. You know it is kind of funny. But a lot of policemen will get a kick out of it."

On attitude toward interrogating Black people

"When you are talking to somebody it is not like you are really listening into their words because you will key on what is the truth and what isn't. First thing, anything out of a n*gger's mouth for the first five or six sentences is a fucking lie. That is just right out. There has got to be a reason why he is going to tell you the truth."

On the destruction of the 77th precinct station

"Leave that old station. Man, it has the smell of n*ggers that have been beaten and killed in there for years."

On taking a suspect "to the baseball diamond."

"We basically get impatient with him being so fucking stupid. Which I thought he was. So I just handcuffed him and went the scenic route to the station. We searched him again and found the gun. Went over to the baseball diamond and talked to him. When I left, Dana goes, `No blood, Mark.' `No problem, not even any marks, Dana.' Just body shots. Did you ever try to find a bruise on a N*gger. It is pretty tough, huh?

On assuming guilt and shooting suspects in the back

"Where would this country be if every time a sheriff went out with a posse to find somebody who just robbed and killed a bunch of people, he stopped and talked to them first. To make sure they had guns. Tried to take them--they shot them in the back. We still should be shooting people in the back. It's just that you've got to hire people who are capable of doing it. And capable of figuring out who the bad guys are.

On assuming guilt and fabricating reasons for making an arrest

Fuhrman: "I didn't arrest him under anything, just took him to the station, ran him for prints, gave them to the detectives to compare with what they've got in the area. I'll probably arrest a criminal that way."

McKinny: "So you're allowed to pick somebody up that you think doesn't belong in an area and arrest him?...

Fuhrman: "I don't know. I don't know what the Supreme Court or the Superior Court says, and I don't really give a shit...If I was pushed into saying why I did it, I'd say suspicion of burglary. I'd be able to correlate exactly what I said into a reasonably probable cause for arrest."

On falsifying evidence

"So if that's considered falsifying a report, and if some hype [junkie], you know says, ah, you know whatever, I shot [up] two days ago, and you find a mark that looks like three days ago, pick the scab, squeeze it, looks like serum's coming out. As if it were hours old. It's a hard find. You just can't find the mark. Cause he's down. His eyes don't lie. That's not falsifying a report. That's putting a criminal in jail. That's being a policeman."

On brutalizing people for speaking Spanish

"We don't speak Spanish here. Work Mexican gangs, and I don't know how to speak any Spanish...When they speak Spanish. `No comprende.' Slap them upside the head. Then they speak English. I'm an English teacher. Just like that. That's police work. And that's being able to pick out the people. That type of treatment is necessary..."

On conduct when working in a Black neighborhood

"You have to be a switch hitter. You have to be able to look at your area and look at how you talk to people. Look at how you deal with things and what you can and can't do even with a criminal. You can't go up in Bel Air, and some guy gives you a hard time in broad daylight, and slap them. `Dammit. I want to know what's going on.' You just don't do that. I mean, it's obvious. But when you work down in the south end, Watts, the metropolitan area, you work skid row. You use your stick more than your mouth. You don't--I mean, you just, you go of course. Don't try to tell people to go there. Go there. You just use your stick. Smack 'em. They'll move. They see no problem with that. They're where they are not supposed to be...."

Fuhrman also describes an incident in an East L.A. housing project where he and other police officers kicked the door down.

"We grabbed a girl that lived there--one of their girlfriends. Grabbed her by the hair and stuck a gun to her head and used her as a barricade. Walked up and told 'em. `I've got this girl. I'll blow her fuckin' brains out if you come out with a gun.' Held her like this. Threw the b*tch down the stairs. Deadbolted the door. Let's play boys...Anyway, we basically tortured them. There was four policemen and four guys. We broke 'em. Numerous bones in each one of them. Their faces were just mush. They had pictures on the walls. There was blood all the way to the ceiling with finger marks like they were trying to crawl out of the room. They showed us pictures of the room. It was unbelievable. There was blood everywhere. All the walls. All the furniture. All the floors. It was just everywhere....So with 66 allegations, I had a demonstration out in front of Hollenbeck station chanting my name. Captain had to take them all into roll call and that's where the internal affairs investigation started. It lasted 18 months. I was on a photo lineup--suspect lineup. I was picked out by 12 people. So I was pretty proud of that....They didn't get any of our unit--38 guys--they didn't get one day. I didn't get one day.... Immediately after we beat those guys, we went downstairs to the garden hose in the back of the place. We washed our hands--we had blood all over our legs....Well, they know I did it. They know damn well I did it. There's nothing they can do about it because we all, most of those guys work 77th together. We came in as gang unit. We were tight. I mean we could have murdered people and got away with it. We were tight. We all knew what to say. We didn't have to call each other at home and say, `Okay.' We all knew what to say..."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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