NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 38

36 The Party press and publications in the United States closely followed the trial. Articles in the Party’s theoretical journal, The Communist, trashed Bukarin as a traitor and drew lessons from the trial that Party members should absorb. The most important lesson, according to Earl Browder, the Party’s leader, was the “scope and extent of the international fascist conspiracy to overthrow the Soviet government.” Right after the execution of the defendants, the Party noted: “The exposure, condemnation and destruction of the gang of spies and fascist agents, known as the bloc of ’Rights and Trotskyists,’ render an inestimable service to the working class movement of all countries to the cause of peace and democracy everywhere.” 8 In Los Angeles, profound political permutations would soon result from another set of trials. On January 14, 1938, Harry Raymond, the investigator for civic [Citizens Independent Vice Investigating Committee], left his home, entered his car in the garage, pressed the starter, and triggered a pipe bomb placed under the hood and connected with the ignition. The explosion severely injured Raymond, who suffered nineteen operations, which removed 156 pieces of metal from his body. Raymond was to testify two weeks later in a bankruptcy case against Harry Munson, a former police commissioner and alleged conduit for campaign contributions from the McAfee-Gans syndicate to the Shaw administration. Raymond had been threatened by Earle Kynette, head of the lapd’s intelligence unit, not to testify. 9 In the weeks that followed, Clifford Clinton linked the Raymond bombing to the one at his home and accused the Shaw administration and the lapd of complicity in the crime. Clinton also accused District Attorney Burton Fitts of corruption and did not want his office to pursue the crime’s investigation. Clinton called for the Governor to lead the investigation at the state level. On the local level, the County’s grand jury was being selected, and Clinton and his allies on the bench fought hard to have members selected who were not beholden to the Shaw administration and local gambling interests. Meanwhile, the Shaw administration and the lapd denied participation in the bombing. 10 Despite Clinton’s misgivings, District Attorney Fitts actively pursued the bombing investigation and determined that Kynette and others in the Intelligence Squad had rented a house near Raymond’s and had him under constant surveillance at the time of the bombing, including wiretaps on his phones. In late January, Kynette and Lieutenant Draper were arrested on wiretapping charges. After the Governor refused to intervene, the grand jury was impaneled. A search of Kynette’s home uncovered wire that matched the wire used in the Raymond bomb. On February 18, 1938, Kynette and two other officers in the Intelligence Unit, Roy Allen and Fred Browne, were indicted by the grand jury on four counts of conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, assault with intent to murder, and malicious use of explosives. 11 The trial of Kynette and the two other defendants began April 19, 1938, and ended June 16, 1938. Both direct and circumstantial evidence tied Kynette and Allen to the bombing. Witnesses testified Kynette and Allen were observed examining Raymond’s parked automobile. George Sakalis, a Greek vegetable dealer who lived next door to the “spy house” where Kynette and the others were watching Raymond, testified that the night before the bombing, he was awakened by three men talking in the alley who went immediately into the “spy house” after he called out to them. His wife testified she later heard footsteps going down the alley from the “spy house,” to Raymond’s house and about a half-hour later heard them return to the “spy house.” This was the only night such late night activity was heard. Sakalis testified that several days after the bombing, Kynette and Allen followed him from his home, stopped and beat him, with the warning to keep his mouth shut about the Raymond bombing. 12