Friday, July 24, 2009
Heretofore in his blogging career your humble blogster has hesitated to relate "war stories" of the experiences he lived during his years as a cop on the streets of Los Angeles and environs. Recent events in the news have however dredged up memories of events which have remained dormant but never far below the surface of consciousness. I am referring in this instance to the recent confrontation between a white police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts and black Professor Henry L. Gates of Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.
The circumstances as they relate to race relations and described in the above linked article have conjured up memories of an incident (I can assure you, there were others) which occurred some years ago in the Vermont district of south central Los Angeles.
A business establishment on south Vermont ave. which I shall call the "Road Runners club" had been the scene of many "disturbance" calls to the Lennox Sheriff's station. The calls generally resulted from brawls involving two or more combatants and the use of various weapons ranging from fists, knives and razors to the occasional firearm.
In this particular instance an ambulance as well as law enforcement personnel was dispatched to the scene indicating the possibility of more than the usual violence. My partner and I arrived and entered the establishment amid considerable confusion and witnesses directed our attention to a black gentleman seated in a chair holding his hand over a wound to his upper abdomen which was bleeding profusely. He was conscious and stated that "Jerome cut and stabbed me" pointing to a young black man standing near the end of the bar. At about this time the ambulance crew arrived and began treating the "victim". As I approached "Jerome" he turned around and ducked into the mens restroom and my partner and I followed and confronted him noting that a large switchblade knife was lying on the floor next to the door to the men's room. Not surprisingly, "Jerome" was taken into custody and escorted to our radio car which was parked at the curb in front of the establishment.
Although the time was now approximately 12:35 AM a crowd had collected on the sidewalk consisting of a dozen or more members of the local citizenry. Upon viewing the assembled humanity, our suspect "Jerome" began shouting repeatedly: "You honky pigs is only bustin' me cause I is black." This refrain continued unabated during the ride to the station and through the booking procedure.
As the station jailer escorted "Jerome" to a holding cell, my partner explained to him: "Yeah Jerome, we only arrested you 'cause there wasn't a single white dude there we could hassle."
The irony seemed to escape Jerome and he continued to call all and sundry a "bunch of honky motherf#@&%r pigs".
I never learned the outcome of the incident as I did not receive a subpoena to testify in court. In any event, discussion of the incident did not come up during a presidential press conference and the President did not call me to attend a meeting at the White House with himself and "Jerome". Come to think of it, "Jerome" was not even a Harvard professor.