Police Story, Part 2

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

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.

You would figure that with all this gang activity that I would be scared of the gangs, but I’m not. I’m more afraid of the police. Gang members for the most part know how to tell the difference between a civilian and a soldier. The police do not. I’ve been sweated by gang members a few times, just enough to count on my hands and not once after I reached the age of 25. I can’t count how many times the police have done the same. Even though I have a clean record, don’t have any gang affiliations or partake of illegal activities, I know I will always be considered a criminal in their eyes until I can prove otherwise.

After our time at The Spot we go back into the night with the streets still crawling with cops. I feel like I should be too old to hate cops but I still do. I can’t erase the past. I can’t erase the feeling of getting my balls grabbed while being frisked. I can’t erase the feeling of humiliation sitting on the sidewalk as pedestrians walk by as the cops go through your car or your belongings. I can’t erase watching people get pummeled at peaceful rallies by riot police. It makes me want to give up, move far away so I don’t have to deal with this. It makes me want to assimilate, change who I am and leave my community behind. Even though I wouldn't do it, I can understand why people leave their barrios or try to get people with money and privilege to move in. It’s hard enough to deal with all the gangs, let alone the baddest gang in town, the cops. One can escape 18th Street, Mara Salvatrucha, The Avenues, La Mirada, Maravilla, etc, but wherever you go in Los Angeles, there will always the cops.

"understand we're fighting a war we can't win. they hate us, we hate them. we can't win"
Black Flag- Police Story

Relevant Tags

Cops (3), Black Flag (28), Margarita (5)