Interview with John Conyers

Let me ask you a little more about what was happening before '67 and can you tell me just briefly what Mayor Cavanagh's election meant in terms of hoping to change some of what was happening the police.


Well the election shook the political establishment and the economic establishment to its roots. Ah, he was not supposed to have won. Nobody thought he could win. And so it was hailed in the Black community. He integrated. He brought in an integrated cabinet and, ah, he was making, ah, ah, inroads into the housing. Of course you had everything piled up. Ah, he, appointed, ah, George Edwards, ah, now, he appointed George Edwards a labor lawyer as a Police Commissioner and, we were, we were going to really move forward from, from that point on. Ah, but, but the old problems were not that easily solved. And so, ah, ah, the police force, like many, couldn't care less who was the Mayor. I mean they considered themselves to be the permanent, ah, law organization and mayors came and went. Usually mayors were bent to the will of the police establishment. So, things were, were moving forward but they, they were, they were not being solved in a way that people could, ah, feel relief. In other words, the changes were, were much slower than, than the, than what was felt. And that, by the people, and it, it wasn't coming down. We were, you can put somebody the head of an agency You can make someone, you can change policy but that really doesn't grab hold immediately and, and, and is, and is treated as some kind of accommodation. So that's the problem, that was the problem that these things were behind the curve.