For the first three episodes of this season of Snowfall, the show has been showing cracks in the fortified empire Franklin has created. In the fourth episode, the police finally broke through and set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Black communities in the same ways the actual LAPD did back in the 1980s.
In a gruesome scene, Los Angeles Police Department officers storm the projects where Leon and his crew live and sell drugs in a damaging raid. Without seeing a single vial of crack being exchanged for money or a single gun brandished, LAPD officers treat anyone in their path as criminals —- sicking dogs on children, ramming their way into apartments, and arresting members of Franklin’s organization and family on their knees. Leon saw the entire police force and drug dealing community search for him after he accidentally murdered Skully’s daughter in season four, and the confusion on his face as he looks on the police raid tells you this is a disruption in a somewhat unspoken agreement between the police and the dealers. Later in the episode, he compares the incident to the racist harassment police inflicted on peaceful demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 when police violently sprayed Black people with fire hoses.
We don’t get somewhat of an understanding about the LAPD’s increased aggression in the projects until Franklin seeks help from Teddy and the same U.S. government he’s been led to believe he’s selling drugs to help. It’s in this intense confrontation when Teddy reveals the LAPD officers who raided the projects are part of the C.R.A.S.H. Unit. Teddy reveals the racist motives of C.R.A.S.H. by assuring Franklin the officers won’t be bothering him personally because “nobody fucking cares what happens in South Central,” and he would only have a problem if he was selling drugs in a white neighborhood. Snowfall introduced the racial hierarchy of drug users in the season premiere when a white kid being shot at a cocaine-fueled party in the Valley made the news in a Snowfall series where the plethora of Black bodies lost to drug wars have never been covered on the news. The fourth episode almost guarantees the rest of the season will largely focus on the race war caused by the police that plagued American communities in the 1980s.
The C.R.A.S.H. Unit in Snowfall was an actual police unit with the LAPD. Known as Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums, C.R.A.S.H. was formed in 1979 in an effort to curb the influx of gang violence by monitoring gangs and gaining intel on their operation. The chaotic scene in Snowfall was a regular occurrence in L.A. once C.R.A.S.H. entered the scene. C.R.A.S.H. raided 30 houses in one week in August 1981 following three months of violent gang battles. In one weekend in April 1988, an unprecedented 1,453 people were arrested after 1,000 C.R.A.S.H. police officers. The raid drew criticism because only 794 of the 1,453 people arrested were gang members, and of that 794, some were arrested for minor offenses, such as littering. John Hagar, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Los Angeles Times the sweeps were nothing more than a publicity gimmick, a characterization the police in Snowfall and real-life have agreed with.
On August 1, 1988 alone, 88 officers raided two apartment buildings in South Central L.A., and left significant property damage similar to the raid in this week’s episode of Snowfall. For all the harm C.R.A.S.H. had brought to an unsuspecting Black community, the 88 officers only uncovered less than six ounces of cannabis and less than an ounce of cocaine. Thirteen years later, officer Todd Parrick of the C.R.A.S.H. unit who committed those raids in 1988, admitted to the Los Angeles Times a “standard method of operation” for C.R.A.S.H. was to break into the homes of people suspected of selling drugs and purposefully destroy the property as a way to send a message on the consequences of drug dealing. “We weren’t just searching for drugs. We were delivering a message that there was a price to pay for selling drugs and being a gang member,” Patrick said.
In Snowfall, one of the Black officers intimates to Louie the raid on the projects was simply to reinforce the law enforcement’s power to drug dealers, a power that could have deleterious generational consequences in the Snowfall universe if it mirrors the actual American history it’s based on.