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Saturday, April 25, 2015

A word on the Freddie Gray protests

I decided not to go downtown today, if only because I wasn't sure that I'd be able to get back home (I don't drive). But my sympathies are with the protestors. If a young man can end up with a broken spine simply because he looked at a cop wrong, then this city must be taught a lesson. When shit like that goes down, the city can't expect to run a damned baseball game as normal.

Los Angeles is still the city I consider home, and I can well recall the Rodney King riots. It was the only time I heard the emergency broadcast system attention signal for real -- not a test. Horrifying. But I'll tell you this: After that uprising, the cops thought twice.   

Of course, those protestors were unorganized and thus acted stupidly. On the day of the worst rioting, a friend in the UK -- someone whose name a few of you may know -- called me up and asked what I consider a very good question. "Why don't they just go marching into Bel Air? That's where the good stuff is."

Word to the wise. Where Freddie Gray died isn't that far from Roland Heights.
I well remember the King riots. I was working in Hollywood, not far from Paramount Studios. We went out onto an office balcony and could see smoke rising from the LACC/Vermont area. But we stupidly didn't shut things down until around 2 pm, which was way too late. I was driving a 1964 Nova SS with a 350 at the time,which was a sweet ride but it had a tendency to overheat if it had to idle too long. So my overarching goal always was to keep moving---not a small feat in Southern California. As you know from that section of Hollywood you have to drive quite a ways to reach the freeway system and the streets, including main thoroughfares and side streets were completely gridlocked in every direction. And there were pickup trucks filled with angry looking young men inching by and staring you right in the eyes. But I was so concerned with trying to figure out how I was going to get over the mountain to the 134/210 freeways without burning my engine up that I didn't really take much notice. By maneuvering through every known Hollywood side street and alleyway I somehow made it to Los Feliz and Griffith Park. When I got to the observatory, I was able to see a sweeping view of all of South-Central. It looked as if the entire city was on fire. Three hours later by a very circuitous route, I made it home. But Colorado Blvd. was completely boarded up and the smoke from the fires had of course blown inland. It was a bad day.
An interesting conundrum of insurrectionist geography, anon. I'd have taken Gower to that cute little diner beneath the Hollywood sign. Presuming they stayed open, I would have hung out there while planning my next move.

Mulholland might have been a good route. You would have had a commanding overview. The Havenhurst slide (on which an old friend of mine once lived) takes you back down to the Valley.

Still, it must have been awesome to see it all from the observatory.
I wouldn't be surprised if we hear that the initial injury was in the take-down. The film shows Gray being dragged to the paddy-wagon and his head is kinked to the side. The police officials have already admitted that he was not properly secured inside the vehicle. The severity of the break was originally described as something akin to a decapitation, complete severing of the spinal cord.

And for what? Walking while black? Looking at a cop the wrong way? If he had a knife, I haven't heard any statement that he brandished it. So why was he stopped? What the hell are the cops doing anymore?

I had to leave town for the weekend, but I drove thru downtown yesterday and again today. Saw nothing...but there was an impromptu rally around the corner from me Friday during rush hour. Everyone was honking in sympathy. I ran out and started making more signs for everyone. The police arrived and outnumbered the protesters, so they moved on.

WETA aired Gone with the Wind last jaw dropped.
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