Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Number 1 with a Bullet.
LAPD chief Bratton called them "knuckleheads." He's used that term before. I've heard him. Lieutenant Detective Bob Lopez, gang expert, formerly out of the Northeast Division, used it as well at Atwater Village Neighborhood Watch meetings. In cop-talk, it's synonymous with gang members. Bratton was quoted in the AP and the Los Angeles Times today as saying "These knuckleheads seem to relish their opportunity in the dark." He also said, after reviewing security photos and media images that "many known gang members were in the crowd." Evidently, the 18th Street Homeboys and the Avenues Gang are big Lakers fans. Or they are just "knuckleheads" looking for any excuse to cause some damage. The city is planning an official celebration to honor the Lakers. Hopefully, we will be able to tell the difference between the unofficial and the official celebration.
Los Angeles is just such an easy target to bash. All the clichés are based on reality, like the TV shows. The palm trees and endless sunshine, the phony smiles and the ultra-rich, the movers and shakers... and the gangs. The fact that winning an NBA championship becomes an opportunity for rioting, looting and general lawlessness shows just how fragile the peace is in the City of Angels. This was a victory, not an unpopular verdict handed down in Simi Valley. A black leader wasn't slain. A young black man named Kobe brought his team the championship. It was cause for celebration, not breaking into a nearby shoe store or stomping on cars. Let me get this out: I am not Kobe Bryant's biggest fan. My feelings toward the Lakers is right up there with the ones I have for the Yankees. I certainly didn't want to see them win the championship. But to riot in the streets?
As far as I can figure, the only difference between what happened in LA and what happened in Boston last year and in other cities with each recent championship or World Series win is the prevalence of gangs doing the rioting. That, so far as I know, is unique to Los Angeles.
Impromptu Photo-Montage by Barry Shapiro