The Times Sunday Business section featured the former home of Van M. Griffith (d. 1974), the son of Griffith Park donor Colonel Griffith J. Griffith. (For some reason, the early stories in The Times refer to him as “Dan Griffith” rather than Van.) What makes Dan/Van Griffith interesting to us is his role on the Los Angeles Police Commission in the 1940s.
Photo: Van M. Griffith estate Credit: Credit: Patricia Ruben
Griffith was appointed to the Police Commission in 1938 as part of Mayor Fletcher Bowron’s reform administration, but he fought with just about everybody and by 1946 the commission was on the verge of a meltdown as other commissioners threatened to resign unless Griffith quit.
The final blow came when Griffith launched a separate, independent investigation of the LAPD’s actions at a riot that broke out in quelling a strike at the U.S. Motors plant on Slauson Avenue. In January 1946, police arrested 25 people after a fight between 50 LAPD officers and 500 strikers at the U.S. Motors plant, 200 E. Slauson. The fight began when strikers ignored a judge’s temporary restraining order to end the strike and disperse.
Griffith ignored Bowron’s repeated calls to resign and he was eventually ousted, clearing the way for a new board including Mrs. Curtis S. Albro, the second woman to serve on the commission (the first was teacher Kate Smith, 1930-1933) and attorney Charles R. Matthews, the first African American to serve on the commission.