Amoeblog

Police Story, Part 2

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 17, 2008 12:21am | Post a Comment
2008-Winter

It is a Friday night and I’m driving with my girlfriend. We are heading to The Spot, which is a Mexican restaurant  called Villa Sombrero in Highland Park. We call it The Spot because it is our spot; it has the perfect margarita and good food, which is a rarity. The L.A. area Mexican restaurants seem to sacrifice one for the other. It’s either you have great drinks and lousy food or visa versa. We have our favorite waiter, Jesus from D.F., who is a character in his own right. I couldn’t even begin to explain him-- he is an experience and probably the best waiter I’ve ever known. Going there signals the start of our very short weekend. After the first sip of my margarita I am reminded that my workweek is over and I have the day off the next day. It doesn’t matter how broke I am or how inconvenient it is going there. The Spot gives us a sense of humanity. That we do not just exist to work and pay bills.

I make a left on to Cypress Ave. I see two police cars on opposite sides of the street, not even a block away from my house with their flashing lights on. I wonder if it was more fallout from an incident that happened on February 22nd, in which undercover police gunned down a twenty two year old. A few days before that, there was a hit on a thirty-six year-old veterano while he was holding his two-year old granddaughter, followed by the police, killing one of the hit men in nearby Glassell Park. All over the city there has been an increase of gang and gun related deaths. The most recent was last Thursday, a drive-by shooting and subsequent death of a twenty year old on Ave. 59 in Highland Park, not too far where we are going to eat. I hadn’t even reached the point where Cypress turns into Eagle Rock when I saw at least several more police cars.

Every person the police has pulled over looks the same. All are Latino, young, male and pelon with custom cars. Most of them don’t look the part of a gang member yet still they are pulled over. It is incredible how many police are out tonight. By the time we hit the restaurant I have seen more than fifteen units under a two-mile stretch. At a light I watch the young pelones bum out. It’s not so fun to go out on a Friday night after being humiliated by some cops.

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Police Story, Part 1

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 16, 2008 10:17pm | Post a Comment
1983-Summer

My first run-in with the cops was when I was fourteen. I was in a parking lot across the street from Del Amo Mall in Torrance after football practice, waiting for a ride home. I wasn’t used to taking the bus to the new school I was going to, several miles away from my home in Gardena. I kept boarding the wrong bus so finally I gave up and called my sister to pick me up. As I was waiting, I watched the cops make a u-turn across the street. I remember thinking that they probably got a call for a crime and were heading for it, but I was wrong. They pulled right in front of me, jumped out off the car and had me put my hands in the air. I dropped my backpack full of my sweaty clothes on the ground. The cops asked me why I was standing here as they frisked me. I told them that I was coming back from football practice and I was waiting for my sister to pick me up. I then asked what I was doing wrong, because I was just leaning against a brick wall waiting for my sister. They didn’t answer me. I watched as the passengers in the cars slowly passing me by gave their slow judgment. I was embarrassed and I was scared that that they were going to find something to bust me for, even though I had nothing on me to get busted with. In short, I felt like a criminal. After the frisking and looking through my backpack full of sweaty clothes, they let me go and said, “Stay away from the parking lot-- it looks like you’re checking out the cars,” and they left.
My fourteen-year-old brain was confused, “Checking out the cars?” I guess they thought I was going to break into one.  

When I got home I looked in the mirror and saw for the first time what they saw. I was nearly six feet, wearing a white t-shirt with my head shaved down to a number two guard and, I was dark. As dark as the dirt on the ground, as dark as the cochinto pan dulce that sat on the dinner table, as dark as all the criminals I’d seen on the news. Until then I felt like every other kid. But now I knew better. I knew that from now on I would have to be careful of what I said and what I did. I knew I just couldn't go anywhere. Others could get away with more but because of the way I look I couldn’t. I couldn’t stand on a corner, I couldn’t dress different, I couldn’t even check out cars in a parking lot. On that day the cops let me know how different I was, and I hated them for it. For the first time in my young life, I felt powerless.

WESTERN SOCIETY'S WAR ON KIDS AT ALL TIME HIGH

Posted by Billyjam, February 16, 2008 12:32pm | Post a Comment

A couple of days ago someone sent me a link to the video clip above, shot in Baltimore, of a cop clearly abusing his power and harassing a 14 year old boy who had been skating in a park with his buddies.  Apparently the kid, when first beckoned by the cop, didn't respond fast or respectfully enough, and that just ruffled the cop's feathers (especially at been called "dude").  He proceeded to curse out the kid, critique his upbringing, slap him, take his skateboard, and make what seem like threats on his life, saying how he could get "killed" if he continued behaving in this (as the cop says it) "disrespectful fashion."

Anyway, this particular YouTube clip in turn linked me to a never-ending thread of other "skaters versus cops" or "skater vs. rent-a-cop" themed videos, all of which had footage that pretty much repeated the same storyline of kids (usually teenaged boys) skating in places like vacant parking lots or streets/steps where "no skating" is allowed.  And in nearly every case the tension level rose between the two sides: kids who just want to have fun and skate wherever they can (which means anywhere since few US towns & cities have adequate space assigned for skate parks) and cops or security guards telling them "you cannot skate here."

Of course in the battle between 14 year old skaters and cops with all that power (and often a low tolerance for what they perceive as back-chatter), guess who wins? Not the kids. Never the kids. In fact it seems there is a ongoing trend in Western society to first off provide few or no skate parks and other recreation areas & centers for teens to use, and then secondly when these same kids are out on the street or at the mall or other public place just trying to occupy themselves, authorities accuse them of loitering and then harass them into moving on. And if they don't move, they are arrested in order to get them in the system.

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