[Hpn] Why I Hate Cops _ PLEASE COMMENT

Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Sat, 05 Aug 2000 16:28:44 -0700


Why I Hate Cops
by ch@nce 9:21pm Fri Aug 4 '00
address: 468 Turk St. phone: 415.346.3740 coh@sfo.com

... when authority is multiplied by 9mm, the ultimate command and root
product is DEATH, in English or Espaņol.

by chance martin

I don't hate cops. I've had friends who were cops in every town where
I've ever lived. One pal o' mine - Cuddles to his friends - drove the
meat wagon (picking up corpses) for the Chicago police department.
Another was Ziggy, a ex-junkie who submitted an application to the
police department early in his recovery for a goof. Six months later he
was still clean, still unemployed, and the rest of the story was pure

Both these guys nearly drank themselves to death, as cops, before they
got sober. They would go to AA meetings in uniform (alcoholism in the
Chicago police department was so rampant during the mid '80's that their
union successfully negotiated permission for Chicago PD members to
attend AA meetings during duty hours). I'd joke that some poor slob
would really, REALLY want to get clean to willingly park his ass between
those two grim faces over bad coffee in a room that smelled like an
ashtray. Funny thing - the longer they spent in recovery, the grimmer
they were. The politics of their job, they confided, was what they
really couldn't stomach.

Today neither of them is a cop, by choice. I was happy that conscience
figured largely among the intangibles they recovered - and pissed 'cause
I had to find someone else to fix my parking tickets.

My perceptions, and interactions, with cops changed after an incident I
witnessed a few weeks after I moved to LA. I was smoking a cigarette in
front of my new LA residence on Rampart near 6th when I witnessed four
cruisers roll up out of nowhere on three young Latinos in a VW bug. All
eight officers popped out of their cruisers and had their weapons
trained on the VW.

They began instructing the passengers (in the most imperative use of the
English language I've ever heard) to crawl on their bellies out of the
car and onto the summer-sticky, brick oven street. Problem was, the
three suspects' command of English didn't include the word "crawl," so
they sat there sweating under gunpoint for an elastic moment that
extruded into a quarter hour.

Another cruiser finally pulled up with someone who could provide a
similarly oppressive monologue in Spanish over the cruiser's PA. The
front-seat passengers made every earnest endeavor to slither from the
car to the searing pavement, in obvious discomfort since they were
wearing beach clothes.

Then came the guy in the back seat's turn. He began speaking very
excitedly in the only language he knew, and I'm thinking: this dude's
wacked and he's going to give all TEN cops the excuse they're looking
for to express-deliver a potential 160 steel-jacketed 9mm rounds right
into the back seat of the VW. When four of the cops performed their
well-rehearsed dance of duck-and-cover up to the car, I braced for the
ugly, flat, slapping sounds of authority. And when authority is
multiplied by 9mm, the ultimate command and root product is DEATH, in
English or Espaņol.

Amazingly, our amigo in the back seat was spared - the point cop
returned his weapon to his holster - and I remembered to exhale. Two of
the other three cops held the muzzles of their M-92s inches in front of
the young man's eyes while the point cop dragged him from the back seat
onto the pavement. Seems this dangerous suspect was in a hip cast,
y'see. Then this heroic blue knight redrew his weapon to ensure the
injured suspect hauled himself and his cast in a belly-crawl the
required 20 feet from the vehicle (kinda like "injured suspect" was
synonymous with "wounded animal").

The three suspects were then left shackled and face-down on the
blistering street while the foiled marksmen turned most of their efforts
to moving the five-block backup of Sunday afternoon traffic past the
scene. Two cops spent the next half-hour tearing the interior out of the
shiny custom bug, but their search produced no justification for their
heavy-handed tactics.

When LAPD's finest finally, reluctantly released the VW and its
passengers an hour later, the trio of victims positively beamed in
sullen relief. From the sidewalk where I watched this state-sanctioned
terrorist act, I listened and I never heard anything like an apology
from any of the officers involved - although I'm certain Monday's roll
call included remedial training in Spanish equivalents for the English
word "crawl."

A few years later, as I watched much of Los Angeles burning during the
Rodney King uprising, two thoughts dominated the few which managed to
penetrate my shock. First, half of the people of Los Angeles were on the
streets looking to settle the score on every injustice that they had
ever endured. This debt was obviously of considerable scope - the fires
burned for days. (whole families were looting, Ma and Pa helping Baby
Girl over the shards of the broken window and into the toy aisle of
Thrifty Drug, fer chris'sake).

Second, WHERE WERE ALL THOSE HEROIC BLUE KNIGHTS, festooned with symbols
and devices of humiliation, pain and death? Where was the death-whisper
of those gun-muzzles, the steel-jacketed sounds of authority?

I left LA soon after, and never heard the official answers to these
questions. I doubt they would hold water. The real answers probably
burned in a canyon fire, or were buried in the Northridge quake. And
sometimes, I find it entirely pleasing to believe that Mother Earth
decided it was payback time, too.


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