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Friday, September 10, 2010

Riots in Los Angeles

This blog started off as a humorous way to make comparisons between my experiences as a bus driver in South Wales and Los Angeles. I also thought I could spout off a bit at what I perceive as the shortcomings in public transport across two continents. Sometimes things happen that just ain't so funny and this Tuesday saw one of those things. Manuel Jaminez was shot to death by police officers and that's when the shit hit the fan.
Three LAPD officers on bicycles were patrolling the Westlake district of Los Angeles, Manuel Jaminez was weilding a knife. The Los Angeles Times had the story.
For a bit of background; The area where this took place is just to the west of Los Angeles city centre, if you saw the movie "Volcano" you may remember the lake that was boiling at the beginning of the movie. That lake is in the center of McArthur Park. The north edge of the park is 6th street where the riots described in the article took place. There's nothing new in having a riot here, there was one 5 years ago it was reported on Fox news you may notice the phrase  "the marches were peaceful until this evening when the LAPD used force to break up the crowd" That time the demonstration was in support of "Illegal Aliens"
The police officers were from the Rampart division of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) For my friends in Europe, the LAPD is employed and funded by the city of Los Angeles. There are a number of Divisions around the city. Rampart patrols Westlake among other communities and relations between the citizens of these communities and the police department have been strained for many years.
The three officers including the one that fatally shot Jaminez were themselves Hispanic. The situation is a tinderbox. Since Tuesday there have been peaceful marches every night. A shrine has been set up on the spot where he was killed and marchers have been keeping to the side walk and behaving in a generally peaceful manner. however a demonstration is planned for Saturday. that is likely to get out of control. Everyone is fearing the worst and tensions and emotions are running high.
Coming from the United Kingdom where the cops don't carry guns, I know that if someone was stupid enough to attack three cops with a knife, he wouldn't be killed but by the end of it he would wish he was. Here in L.A. rightly or wrongly, this is seen as an attack on a Hispanic community even though the police were of the same background. I refuse to make a judgement, I just do not know all the facts, I do know that I'll be in work tomorrow trying to do my part to keep the bus drivers and their passengers safe. I'll be one of those detouring the buses around any disturbance. I'm safe enoughbecause I operate from the main headquarters building and anyway, I'm hoping that everything will be relatively peaceful but I'm prepared for the worst.

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