Police Club Refuses to Allow 'Homecoming' Dinner for Laurence Powell
Nov. 16, 1995
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A police gun club on Wednesday rejected plans for a prison homecoming banquet at the Police Academy for a white officer convicted in the 1991 beating of black motorist Rodney King.
But banquet organizers said they would seek another site for the dinner to welcome Laurence Powell, who is to be released from an Orange County halfway house on Dec. 14.
The board of directors of the private Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, which operates at the Police Academy, bowed to critics who had said the banquet would harm the image of the city and the police force.
Police Commission President Deirdre Hill and Vice President Art Mattox had said the dinner ``would subject the employees of this department to further public vilification.''
King was among those who praised the decision to deny banquet organizers space at the Police Academy.
``It shows that the city is moving forward,'' he said.
The Powell dinner was being organized by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and the conservative Legal Affairs Council of Reston, Va., which threatened to sue the city over the cancellation.
Antonovich press aide Steven Herbert said another dinner site was being sought. The supervisor, who wasn't available for comment, has defended his involvement in the event, saying Powell was wrongly punished.
Powell, Sgt. Stacey Koon and two other white officers were acquitted in state court on charges of assault and excessive use of force in the March, 3, 1991, beating of King. The beating was captured on videotape and broadcast worldwide.
The verdicts touched off three days of deadly rioting in Los Angeles.
The four officers were then indicted on federal charges, and Koon and Powell were convicted in 1993 of violating King's constitutional rights. Both men went to prison in October of that year and were later fired from the force. Powell was sentenced to 30 months.
Koon is scheduled to be released Dec. 14 from a halfway house.