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by Mickey Zavi
Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2003 at 8:51 PM
911 is a Joke in Your Town.
This weekends rallying against the U.S. governments pre-emptive strike doctrine finally got some media attention. However, the real scoop was sorely missed.
"I dialed 911 a long time ago," goes the Public Enemy song. The song talks about how 911 won't help you, because they come too slowly.
Just a preface; the previous anti war rally in downtown Los Angeles on Olympic Blvd. was remarkably devoid of police violence. There wasn't much collateral damage unruly protesters could do to Broadway St. considering it's a hovel anyway. In fact, the police, who appeared to be regular monitors of that area, seemed relieved to be dealing with mothers and middle class protesters rather than homeless people. They seemed to be making an all out effort to show middle class moms that they cared for freedom.
Hollywood was a different story. February 15th was a miracle of human will. In the largest demonstration of dissatisfaction ever, the world took to the streets. In New York, angry New Yorkers were seen on CNN and heard on NPR marching through the barricades and crowding the streets to attend the rally. Police did everything they could to stop them, but we all know New Yorkers when they are mad. 257 people were arrested, many just trying to get to the rally. At around 12:00 noon, Los Angeles time, CNN was broadcasting Martin Sheen and Angelica Houston speaking in LA. The day seemed promising and I made an objective newsworthy sign, "Half a million New Yorkers Marched Through Bush's Barricades Today."
The MTA had been prepared, Police guards stood at the door of every train stop. They confiscated sticks attached to signs. They even searched purses, all of these were safety measures that seemed reasonable. They allowed us all to ride for free, a great consolation prize.
At 1:20 p.m. the march down Hollywood Blvd. began. It started off very placidly. By 2:30 p.m. everyone had arrived at the rallying point on Sunset Blvd. Anarchists, Socialists, teachers unions, healthcare workers, actors, CEO's, and many elderly and children squeezed in to hear the speeches.
At the corner of La Brea Ave. a seven eleven promised soda, water, refreshment from the heat. This is when my first experience with the police began. The crowd was definitely bottlenecked. The police Blocked off La Brea and left a small opening for people to exit to the crosswalk. They created a pen like area where people desperately tried to escape. Children were gasping for air. Where the Seven Eleven parking lot stood adjacent to the march, the tallest, meanest officers were blocking people from relieving congestion in the street by keeping them out of the lot. No one could really understand why. The child I had come with was extremely thirsty and getting slightly squished.
At this point, with air and water so close, I asked an Officer Armando (a tall white skin headed cop) to let us climb over for help. He blatantly refused. He stated that the store owner had made the request. Mobile, across the street, was taking in money hand over fist. I couldn't believe Seven Eleven didn't want their share.
I asked officer Armando if making a child be squished and thirsty was his definition of protecting and serving. He answered, "I guess it is." It wasn't until fifteen minutes later after moving 3 feet, that I saw what he and the other super cops were protecting.
911 is a joke in my town. My uncle has been robbed twice, my car burglarized, my boyfriend and I have been in some serious fights that could have led to my death. Each time the police are called, they take half an hour to three hours to come, only to do absolutely nothing in the end. They claim to be too busy, but what are they busy doing?
The Lot adjacent to the rally actually housed some precious cargo. Each multi million dollar news van parked next to Seven Eleven was aiming at getting the scoop this time. The press, which enjoys calling protesters un American and asking, "do you really think this will work to stop the war?", had front row seats for this event. KCAL9, NBC, ABC, all had a prime spot with plenty of space.
So, why wasn't 911 answering the calls of the crowd who was suffocating? Because they were protecting the vans! Officer Armando had learned somewhere along the lines to protect the more expensive van, and ignore the worthless people of his city. He must have been a Rampart officer.
At the end of the rally, a few people were doing civil disobedience. The photos can be seen under Indymedia.org. LA. They dressed in costume, and attempted to march peacefully away from the actual march to make a point that freedom should be for everyone and everywhere. They were dressed in black. The police quickly moved in to block them, and started calling in the SWAT they had expected to use that day. A few of the anarchists, known for their stance against Rampart and bad cops in particular, were assaulted and arrested. They had simply knocked down cones and marched where they weren't allowed.
Meanwhile the march continued back up Highland to Hollywood when the crowd was ordered to disperse for Saturday night tourism.
Once again the SWAT team amassed in front of the Babylon Pavilion. What extreme irony, they had moved to block the building so that it could be protected. They were in full riot gear. The National Lawyers Guild representatives were called on over the loud speaker to rush to Hollywood for a final confrontation. Their presence, as well as the presence of two hundred tourists, just may have prevented a serious riot.
You see, the people who came to the rally were the usual Hollywood crowd, But they were mixed in with many middle class Americans who are angry at the government's mismanagement. When the parents went home, and the teenagers stayed, the Police, under their new chiefs, "I hate teenagers," policy, were in attack mode. They were ready to attack the younger students and anarchists to protect Babylon Pavilion. But they couldn't do anything in front of the tourists. Everything was done before they got back to Hollywood and Highland where the tourists and lawyers waited for the culminating marchers. A few more arrests were made for disturbing the peace and marching "outside the lines." A few more Billy clubs flew in the face of people who ironically are against police brutality.
It was 7:00 p.m. when the rally dispersed. For the first time, I saw what 911 protects and why they’re always late when a regular person needs them. The Police do not protect and serve you, their benefactors. They protect and serve KCAL9, the Babylon Pavilion, and the moral wrong that is bombing Iraq. They never have really card to be heroes, they just follow orders from someone with ulterior motives.
These people don't realize what marches have brought them, black cops with jobs, women with badges. They were all there in full self defeating force. Squashing liberty with an ignorant show of force. Protecting and serving people who run to tax shelters to avoid paying police paychecks. And we, who pay our taxes, were slightly brutalized. Not so much so as the New Yorkers who took pepper spray from their cops. But enough to make the middle class moms who's children came very pissed off.
I just cannot understand police who work against their people. Perhaps they feel that they have job security. As long as they oppress whoever would chastise them for their brute antagonism. I thanked the LAPD after the rally downtown. I was thoroughly disgusted by their attitude in Hollywood. It's really hard when you try to have an open mind, to reconcile brutality as a trade off for protection. I don't think I can when I know that the police, never intended to protect me.
"I dialed 911 a long time ago," to protect me from vote stealers, pension crooks, insurance gauging, racism, rape, robbery, murder, and overall brutality of the system. But they were an hour late, saying they had been on a twelve hour shift protecting "the man." I'm one up on the man though, I know, "911 is a joke in yo town."
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