LAPD Captain Cory Palka and Hollywood White Supremacists Have A Good Laugh Over Fucked-Up State of 77th Street Division Even as they Continue Decades-Long Tradition of Thriving on its Misery

Cory Palka, new boss of the Hollywood Division, speaks to an organized gang of exceptionally jolly white supremacists on St. Patrick's day.
Cory Palka, new boss of the Hollywood Division, speaks to an organized gang of exceptionally jolly white supremacists on St. Patrick’s day.
Watch and listen to LAPD Captain Cory Palka speaking at the most recent meeting of the Board of Directors of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance. Captain Cory recently replaced the now transferred Peter Zarcone as Hollywood honcho, and evidently a good-will-drop-in mission to the local zillionaire’s club is de rigueur in that situation.

You can read a transcript of the ongoings after the break, as always, but today we’re focusing just on a little bit of unplanned, unscripted joking around, for in such situations, according to Sigmund Freud (as our friends at Wikipedia put it), we can discern “…forbidden thoughts and feelings that the conscious mind usually suppresse[s] in deference to society.”

Har-de-fooking-har-har-har!
Har-de-fooking-har-har-har!

The fun began when Kerry Morrison, her inimitably sycophantic affect in full flower, told Cpt. Cory that she had a surprise for him! (This bit starts here).

KM: I have one fun thing to show you. When you were here, I remember you said “Ooooh! I really want one of those star placques!” So I made this up for you for 2013–2014 and then I kept texting, like I want to go down and tour 77th Division.

And Cowboy Cory Palka has a little joke about this:
CP: You don’t want to go to 77th…

Now, it’s hard to see what’s funny about that, right? We mean, really, what’s funny? But the HPOA thinks it’s fookin’ hilarious. Just watch.

We don't get the joke.  You don't get the joke.  But they get the joke.  It's a white supremacist thing, you wouldn't understand.
White people in Hollywood laughing it up about 77th Street Division.
So really, what’s so funny? There’s no clue in Cpt. Cory’s follow-up remarks, either, although we do get the sense that he almost talked about, just barely refrained from mentioning, the dreaded “those people”:

Totally different environment. My first year in 77th Street I had fifty murders and then last year I had thirty three. And I remember, I was telling my daughter we were doing some great things down there, and she was like “Great things? Man, pretty dangerous down there.” And I had ten when I left this year, so, Pete still has ten, I haven’t had any, I’ve been here, this is my second week, so, it’s just a different community and with a whole different set of challenges. Um, that’s a whole different discussion, so…

Very smart, very wise folks have been trying to decipher this kind of coded lingo forever now (as well as some very smart, not-so-very wise ones). There are whole academic departments in our finest universities filled with scholars who spend entire careers trying to explain what these people mean when they say stuff like this, not to mention why they laugh at it, so we’re probably not going to settle it here today. On the other hand, we do have a few comments, which you can find after the break.

Alyssa Van Breene, whose family has owned commercial property in Hollywood for four generations, is the financial beneficiary of a century of white supremacy.
Alyssa Van Breene, whose family has owned commercial property in Hollywood for four generations, is the financial beneficiary of a century of white supremacy.

It’s worth considering why these people are so rich, why their property in Hollywood is worth so much money, how it’s passed down in their families, in the context of the misery of 77th Street Division, the violence, the crime, the poverty. It’s well-known that in the teens and twenties of the last century, racially restrictive covenants were built in to real estate developments in Hollywood as an explicit response to the growing minority populations in South Los Angeles, in both Watts and areas, like 77th Street Division, north-adjacent to Watts. Although it’s not nearly so widely discussed, the commercial real estate market was just as segregated. Nonwhite people couldn’t legally own commercial property in Hollywood until surprisingly recently1 and because of the slow-motion nature of the commercial real estate market, very few do even today.2
Alyssa Van Breen's family has owned this property for four generations.  But if there had been a free market in Los Angeles real estate when they bought it, it's entirely plausible that more competent people than they, only with dark skins, might have bought it instead.  And the sins of the fathers are profited on by the children, even unto the fourth generation, it seems.
Alyssa Van Breen’s family has owned this property for four generations. But if there had been a free market in Los Angeles real estate when they bought it, it’s entirely plausible that more competent people than they, only with dark skins, might have bought it instead. And the sins of the fathers are profited on by the children, even unto the fourth generation, it seems.

The local business community explicitly supported this kind of thing, and it’s not hard to see why. Any kind of distortion in the free market can bring boatloads of money to people who control it, and racially segregated real estate is no exception. White people in Hollywood supported white supremacy in the real estate market because they were making bank off it. And their descendants still are. Many of them sit on the Board of Directors of the HPOA. And many of them were laughing at Cpt. Cory’s non-jokes last Thursday.
Leslie Blumberg, whose family has owned commercial property in Hollywood for three generations, is the financial beneficiary of a century of white supremacy.
Leslie Blumberg, whose family has owned commercial property in Hollywood for three generations, is the financial beneficiary of a century of white supremacy.

And by now, the situation that these white supremacist ancestors of today’s HPOA zillionaires created is self-perpetuating. The fact that the laws have changed doesn’t change the economics much, either.3 Commercial real estate in Hollywood is passed down in families, as are jobs in the commercial real estate industry.4

Race-based geographical segregation in Los Angeles is a money machine, started by white people in the 1910s, 1920s, and still paying off for their descendants today. And the misery of 77th Street? Well, it’s still paying off too. What makes a pristine craftsman house on a 6000 square foot lot on 77th Street worth less than half of what the same house would bring in Southwest Hollywood? What makes a commercial building in the 7700 block of S. Western Avenue or S. Vermont worth a tiny fraction of what the same building on Hollywood Boulevard would bring? It’s nothing but what Cory Palka calls “…a different community and with a whole different set of challenges.” The effective removal of some huge proportion of the City’s housing stock from the part of the market that white people, who have most of the money, participate in, artificially inflates prices by limiting supply even as it perpetuates pain in South L.A. by devaluing property, by destroying neighborhoods, by artificially inhibiting the growth of wealth in some areas over time in order to artificially rev it up to the red line in others.

Evan Kaizer, who works for a family which has owned commercial property in Hollywood for four generations, is the financial beneficiary of a century of white supremacy.
Evan Kaizer, who works for a family which has owned commercial property in Hollywood for four generations, is the financial beneficiary of a century of white supremacy.

Markets, like water, seek their level. If there’s that much of a distortion still, it’s being actively maintained. And the LAPD is one of the chief maintainers of it, and the HPOA Board exemplifies the people on whose behalf it’s maintained. And the human cost in terms of violence, poverty, wasted lives, wasted potential, is horrific. It’s bad enough that zillionaires thrive on this pain, this misery. Do they have to laugh about it as well? Well, given that they’re having “…forbidden thoughts and feelings that the conscious mind usually suppresse[s] in deference to society,” at least Dr. Freud would say that they do.

Cory Palka’s remarks:

Cory Palka: I just want to say hello. I have multiple meetings at four o’clock. So I recognize a few of the faces here. I’ve taken Pete Zarcone’s place. Actually, Pete and I switched. If some of you remember, I was the patrol captain here, oh, about twenty months ago, and I was sent to 77th Street as the Area Commanding Officer and now they brought me back and sent Pete to 77th Street. I’m thrilled to come back. This is home for me. This is my fourth time here in Hollywood. I really go back to the late nineteen eighties. I worked vice here in ninety four to ninety six. I was a patrol captain here with Beatrice Girmala, now Deputy Chief. Then Pete and I were partners for about ten months as well. It’s good to be back. It’s only my second week back, but it’s so good to come home, to be refamiliarized with the faces, and it seems from what I’ve learned in my situation awareness is that issues are still issues. There’s been some significant growth, though. The biggest accomplishment is the relationships that we’ve really shared and that I didn’t have twenty months ago. Especially internally, in my own house, to know that units in my building have really entrenched themselves in the Entertainment District. Like, we can use vice for an example. When I worked vice here back in the day, well, there wasn’t Hollywood Boulevard back in the day, but even twenty months ago, the relationship that I had hoped
[unintelligible] The relationship that I had hoped would exist in the Entertainment District wasn’t as strong…as I’ve never [?] seen a thriving partnership we have. It’s just not the Entertainment District officers that work on the Boulevard, it’s the entities within the house that consistently are engaged in what it takes out here. Obviously this is our biggest investment, and that will be my continued investment, and the relationships with the team here, and then internally to always know that we’re giving everything we got to the part of the division which is responsible for most of our crime. We still exceed…if you look at our numbers, the majority of our crime [unintelligible] will come from the Entertainment District, usually it’s the homelessness and some of the crimes we have. So I look forward to continuing that relationship-building that Pete did, to really make sure that everyone in my house [unintelligible] 77th Street [unintelligible] Hollywood is a true partner to what matters, and I know the BID is, that’s your large responsibility, the Entertainment District and the development, and that you can count on me as a partner and know that I’m available to you. If I could sit down and have coffee with you all eventually, that would be great, and see where you’re coming from and where your heart is. I’m a heart-driven leader, it’s about the relationship and servant leadership. I know there’s a lot of ideals and values and different drives, but in the end we work for the Mayor, we work for the City of Los Angeles. The economy’s largely built on the success of this district, as you all already know. So I want to be a great partner to you in that. And I understand that people who live here have different values as well, and I’d love to say I want to meet everyone’s expectations, but every day you can count on me and my team that we’ll give it our best shot, and that I can respond to some of the issues and challenges that you have, how we deploy, and with the knowledge I have as far as, you know, I’m running a multi-billion dollar business in the end. And the accountability level of a command officer today is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. For example, my relationship with the Councilman is [unintelligible]. I spent more time with the Councilman and his people in the last two weeks than anyone. I’m a Twitter guy. My Twitter’s LAPD2014. My first photo is with the Councilman. As a young officer, I’ve been on 30 years now, we never had that kind of relationship, ever. Because Daryl Gates was the chief [raucous sycophantic laughter]

Kerry Morrison: Captain, I wonder if it would be helpful if we could just quickly have everyone introduce their name and what business or property, that’ll help you start to remember who’s in the room.

CP: Sure, that’d be great. And before we begin, though, I really, if you have a business, you want to sit down and have a cup of coffee, even the guests here, get a hold of me. I’m easy to find. Google my name, if I can find time I’d love to sit down with you. The best way for me to learn is not to read about you, it’s to shake your hand and spend time with you. And I will do that.

[Introductions all the way round mostly]

CP: Any questions before I go? Unfortunately I have like three meetings at four o’clock.

KM: I have one fun thing to show you. When you were here, I remember you said “Ooooh! I really want one of those star placques!” So I made this up for you for 2013–2014 and then I kept texting, like I want to go down and tour 77th Division.

CP: You don’t want to go to 77th…

[generalized hilarity]

KM: [unintelligible] and he said “yehhh…” so it never happened, so I’m going to actually hold on to this, so that we can then change the dates for however long you’re going to be here this time, hopefully it’ll be a long time.

CP: Beautiful, hopefully I can finish my career here.

Monica Yamada: I’ve heard that before.

CP: I really mean it. Totally different environment. My first year in 77th Street I had fifty murders and then last year I had thirty three. And I remember, I was telling my daughter we were doing some great things down there, and she was like “Great things? Man, pretty dangerous down there.” And I had ten when I left this year, so, Pete still has ten, I haven’t had any, I’ve been here, this is my second week, so, it’s just a different community and with a whole different set of challenges. Um, that’s a whole different discussion, so… it’s great to have you guys as partners, you know, I truly believe that if you’re invested in Hollywood, in any capacity, whether you live here or you want to build and develop here, that you should know who your police captain is. You should have my personal cell phone number, which you’ll have when I meet you in the [unintelligible], and you should be able to reach out and talk to me and find out what’s in my heart, and what’s in the chief’s heart, and where we’re going with this thing. Whether you need me for a resource or a service, you should always know that Cory Palka’s the captain here and he’s available to me and we can work as partners to make sure that public safety’s the paramount factor in how we grow as a team here. And there’s a lot of things I need to learn still, and I have a lot of time, be able to take it one day it at a time, I’m going to really try to enjoy this time, and I think I will knowing you guys are on my team, so…Good enough!


Screenshots from the video of the March 17, 2016 meeting of the HPOA are ©2016 MichaelKohlhaas.org. Screenshots from the HPOA website are public records and thus in the public domain in California.

  1. We don’t know if this was legally mandated or not. It seems to be an exceedingly under-discussed aspect of racial segregation in Los Angeles.
  2. We don’t have hard evidence of this, but just look at the racial composition of the boards of directors of the two HPOA BIDs.
  3. This is not to say that it’s not really important that the laws have changed. In the long run these changes should allow the market to seek its own natural equilibrium, but the waves of distortion are very persistent and it’s possible that they won’t go away without some affirmative intervention.
  4. We have only anecdotal evidence for this last claim, but it’s pretty convincing. We’d like to see any valid attempts at refuting the claim.
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