I WAS THERE: 'He Was Suggesting That Blacks Were Not Normal,' L.A. Doctor Recalls Bizarre Phone Call From Then LAPD Chief Daryl Gates
In this episode of "I WAS THERE," Los Angeles Cardiologist Dr. Richard Allen Williams recalls a disturbing phone call that ultimately contributed to a major change in policing in L.A. It was May 1982 when then Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates called Dr. Williams and asked him to validate a theory that Black men’s necks were anatomically different than whites. Gates had a “hunch” that Blacks were dying more frequently from chokeholds because their veins or arteries didn’t open up as fast as “normal people.”
Gates tracked down Dr. Richard Allen Williams after learning of his book "The Textbook of Black-Related Diseases." The call didn’t go well and ultimately led to dueling press conferences and a call for Gates’ resignation. The controversial remarks and ongoing concern surrounding chokeholds quickly pushed the Los Angeles Police Commission to ban one of the technique’s forms. Now there are calls to ban it on a Federal level.