One Featured Article Per Quarter (WP:1FAPQ) is a group of Wikipedians dedicated to producing a new featured article every quarter. Only 1,393 of Wikipedia’s 1,794,328 articles have achieved Featured article status. This translates to 00.07%. According to the essay Wikipedia is Failing, 99.8% of Wikipedia articles remain unassessed.
Now that Wikipedia has created nearly 1.8 million articles and the rate of new article production is slowing down, there are calls for Wikipedians to focus on quality over quantity. A high number of Wikipedia articles are relatively decent and just need a little extra push to guide them through the featured article process.
My Personal Featured Article Project
A few weeks ago I started the Wikipedia article on the LAPD Rampart Scandal from scratch. My goal is to bring it to Featured Article review within the next three months. This may be recklessly ambitious, but hopefully a worthwhile learning experience.
Notability of The Rampart Scandal
The Rampart Scandal may be the most widespread and well-documented case of police corruption and brutality in U.S. History. More than 70 LAPD Rampart officers were implicated in misconduct. Convicted offenses include illegal shootings, illegal beatings, planting of evidence, framing of suspects, stealing millions of dollars of cocaine, drug dealing, gang membership, bank robbery, falsifying police reports, and the ensuing coverups. Discovering that Wikipedia did not yet cover this topic was like striking wiki-Gold.
Bloods, Hip Hop, and Intrigue
Several Rampart cops were on the payroll of Death Row Records, and had strong ties to the violent Bloods gang. Intriguingly, Rampart police are accused of the drive-by shooting of platinum-selling rap artist Notorious B.I.G. on Wilshire Boulevard in 1997. The wrongful death lawsuit against three Rampart officers is currently ongoing in Los Angeles.
The city of Los Angeles has paid out an estimated $125 million in the settlements of 140 seperate civil suits resulting from overturned convictions by Rampart police. Three independent investigations have concluded that Rampart’s corruption was systemic to the LAPD, and not endemic to rogue police. In fact, former Police Chief Bernard Parks was either actively engaged in covering up the Rampart scandal, or else guilty of extreme negligence. He has so far avoided indictment and currently serves on the Los Angeles City Council representing South Los Angeles.
My Work Cut out for Me
The scope of the Rampart Scandal is enormous. So far, in my attempts to start a reasonable article, I have also had to write Wikipedia articles on Rampart police officers Rafael Perez (stole $800,000 of cocaine), Kevin Gaines (killed by an LAPD undercover cop), David Mack (robbed $722,000 from a bank in South Central), as well as Javier Ovando, an 18th Street Gang member who was handcuffed, shot in the head, and then framed by two Rampart cops.
On a Personal Note
I want to note that I love the police. In fact, I attended the 32nd Annual LAPD Celebrity Golf Tournament this weekend and had the opportunity to meet a lot of outstanding LAPD officers. My interest in the Rampart Scandal has more to do with the fact that this incident seems to be underrepresented in the media and in public awareness, for reasons that elude me.
To illustrate this point, note that the Rampart shootings and beatings greatly excede the perceived brutality of the Rodney King beating. Yet the Rodney King verdict prompted 6 days of rioting in Los Angeles, resulting in more than 50 deaths, 2,000 injuries, 3,600 fires, over $1 Billion in property damage, and Police Chief Daryl Gates resigning in disgrace. Meanwhile, many of the Rampart police murders remain unsolved, Chief Bernard Parks continues to hold political office, and Parks continues to command the widespread support of the South Central community. Rampart cops engaged in every form of police brutality. But in many ways, the scandal seems to have been brushed under the carpet.
On May 1, 2007, the LAPD used excessive force in firing rubber bullets and beating several notable journalists who were covering an immigration rally in the Rampart district of Los Angeles. This event has already resulted in an internal investigation, a lawsuit, and a fairly decent Wikipedia article. But the larger issue is that the alleged “warrior culture” of the LAPD reported by the Christopher Commission in 1991, and the Rampart Scandal Task Force in 1999, may continue to exist in the present day. Presenting neutral point of view information on the Wikipedia Rampart Scandal article and bringing it up to Feature Article status may present a useful resource to the Los Angeles community.
Call to Action
I know the Rampart article is still in its infancy, and can use a lot of work. Anyone who would like to take a look and make some edits is welcome to do so. I can use the help!