In America you have rights, sort of. I hate cops. Reason 1,109.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment, US Constitution.

Last Thursday on November 6, my boyfriend’s (BusTard) first amendment rights were violated in the name allegedly of Homeland Security. He was taking pictures of Sheriffs that do nothing at the rail stations, but harass people not polluting the environment with their cars. For doing this he was rewarded with being arrested and taken to LA Country Jail where he got to spend the remainder of his day.

We found this interesting. Apparently in the opinion of the Sheriff terrorists only work the first shift, since before and after the traditional morning rush hour and evening rush hour they are nowhere to be found.

BusTard’s protest that he was being unlawfully detained were met with the response: “Go tell it to the judge.”

He was also initially not told why he was being detained.

He was then later told by one of the arresting officers: “You want to play hardball.”

Apparently in L.A. wanting to play games in the opinion of the Los Angeles Sheriff Department is against the law, but possibly they knew that isn’t a law in the official books.

That was when the terrorist angle came into play:

Officer Ware made all manner of allegations, from my being being possibly responsible for a mercury spill at Pershing Square, to filming sheriffs at Hollywood and Western (which he later stated, while talking to a motor deputy sheriff, was at Hollywood and Highland), to my being a terrorist,” BusTard aka Randall Fleming.

When BusTard told them that he wrote for a transportation blog and that he was simply documenting their incompetence. The cops implied they would go online and arrest other bloggers too. No they did not imply they actually said to paraphrase we’ll go online and arrest other bloggers documenting what we do (or rather don’t do.)

I guess this is what happens when you report on what happens outside of the safe world of press releases and bars.

Do you think this is crap? Think this is great? The Sheriff’s contract is expiring with Metro. They want an extension. Let the LACMTA Board know how you feel.

Thursday, November 21. One Gate Way Plaza Third Floor. 9 am.

by

Browne Molyneux

PS I forgive you Randall for not seeing my modeling debut at Tropico de Nopal. I guess you may have been stressed about the jail thing. I sort of forgot about that. I know how you are a sensitve little dove. I could do jail time and still show up at your events, but I’m a little more hardcore than you. Kisses sweetie.

This entry was posted in Analysis, Blogs, Greater Los Angeles, Politica, Uncategorized and tagged , , , by Browne Molyneux. Bookmark the permalink.

About Browne Molyneux

My name is Browne Molyneux. I'm a lady. I'm a radical feminist. I'm black. I'm an Angeleno. I'm an artist. I'm carFREE. I'm a freelance writer. I'm a blogger. I'm a philosopher. I'm a humanist. I'm a journalist. I formerly wrote a column on transportation, Tracks for LA City Beat. The above are all of the things I have to work on being, got questions email me. browne@shametrainla.com My topics of interests include but are not limited to politics, transportation, dark green issues, economics, race relations, feminism, culture, working class urban life, media, art, Los Angeles and literature.

12 thoughts on “In America you have rights, sort of. I hate cops. Reason 1,109.

  1. An unfortunate experience. I don’t wish it on anybody. Poor Bustard. I’m sure they have a file on you by now.
    Also, not only did he have to miss Browne at Tropico De Nopal’s fashion show, instead, that day he had to watch The County’s Fall Felon’s Fashions Collection with designs by Oscar De La Pinta, Calvin Keister, Hugo Boneyard ,Kite Lagerfeld, Shank & Gabbana, and Lifer Vuitton.

  2. one bad donut has to spoil the whole dozen. Like you guys, I have my own personal experience with the Sheriffs and from my experience, I have more respect than I did before. But just reading about things likes this make me want to change my mind because if it can happen to Bustard, it’s only a matter of time before it happens to me or any other blogger. One solution to this problem is to get a press pass. I always wear my school press pass whenever I’m around them or when I just want to impress people and get cuts in line. Maybe Al can help you out and hook you up with some ?

  3. I always carry a copy of the Photographer’s Bill of Rights with me just in case someone tries something like this. Luckily, I’ve never been confronted and always do my best to not make it clear when I am taking pictures of cops (I get one knee and simulate taking a picture of a building from below when I’m really taking their picture).

    Seriously, cops should leave the terrorist thing to the authorities that have the resources to pursue it. I’m looking forward to the turnstiles at Metro stops; this will hopefully decrease the number of cops riding Metro.

    I see more police officers at Metro’s underground stations than I have ever seen in the MBTA’s stations. In Boston, few cops walk around stations inspecting fares, thanks to gates and free transfers (Metro should increase fares slightly to make transfers free). L.A. cops have to chill out and Metro has to change some policies.

  4. Al I am sure they already have a file on BusTard 🙂

    Of course there are things you can do to avoid asshole cops, but you shouldn’t have to do that. A Jane and Jose Lopez-Smith can go out there and take pictures and its totally within their rights.

    And to me this is not an isolated incident. This is how cops act in LA. I have been bothered by cops in downtown and around the Rampart Division (Filipino Town) and this is how they deal with people who don’t act like they are obedient 8 year olds.

    And on the busses around public transit and in downtown they are especially assholey, because in general people who take public transit are poorer and have less power and cops think they can get away with it. In general they do get away with it.

    Also I think the most disturbing thing about this, say if he had been younger or (and) a person of color and didn’t know how to talk shop with the cops processing him (BusTard former military, former cop, related to ret cops and ret military) he would probably still be in jail right now for nothing. Once he got to County his privilege of being a white guy worked in his favor. He talked to many men of color who had been in prison for years (County is one of the steps on your way out from getting processed you go from prison to county to the street) some for good reasons, but many for reasons that were just not having money and not having a good lawyer and that’s not right.

    Both of us were mad about his arrest, but we were more mad about the injustice of the system.

    Here’s a photo of the people who were in jail with him all of them where black and brown (and one Asian guy for a DUI).

    http://www.thebusbench.com/2008/11/lessons-from-being-arrested-last-friday.html

    That to me is a damnning statement of our system. Once these men got out they didn’t even have money to get on the bus to go home. WTF. They know these people don’t have cars. You can’t give a brother a bus token so he can get home? You are going to force someone into breaking the law again. I would think it would be cheaper to give someone a bus token than to have them arrested for fare evading or loitering and being processed and taken to county again.

    I’m happy that BusTard uses his privilege to force hard questions and not just for getting served quickly at bars. And I’m also happy that he recognizes that he gets to do lots of things in regards to challenging authority that many people can’t do owing to racism.

    Browne

  5. You know a question I have always had is what happens if you get arrested for nothing and you aren’t white or don’t have white friends?

    Browne

  6. I never could have imagined how this whole “terrorism” thing could be used for all manner of repression and injustice. I thought those in power already had everything they needed at their disposal to subjugate the populace when needed but “terrorism” is so much more convenient.
    I’ve read elsewhere how people are getting in trouble for taking pictures of government buildings like in Westwood. I think twice about taking public photos in certain locations. The sheirffs at the MTA need to be held accountable. It’s like the Wild West at Metro platforms. I don’t even ride Metro that often but the few times I have, I’ve seen them harassing and arresting folks, young people too.
    For the first year after the Gold Line opened up, the Metro sheriffs were leaving the nearby Gold Line station and following cars in my neighborhood so that they could give traffic violations. They followed me home once for no apparent reason. I complained on the local NELA list and was told I should be happy we have more patrol officers on the street. Yeah, whatever all they were doing was harassing motorists and teenagers for curfew. There must’ve been complaints cause they don’t do that anymore.
    Thanks to you and Bustard for bringing to light the injustices residents of Los Angeles deal with everyday.

  7. Chimatli,

    That’s really disturbing that the Metro Sheriffs used their authority to abuse citizens and take away the rights of those who are helping our society by integrating public transit into their daily commutes.

    You know what pisses me off about the Sheriffs and the LAPD in general its so freakin obvious that they are only in place to protect rich people, upper middle class people from people like US. It doesn’t matter if us the Latinos and African-Americans also have money or a degree or a professional job to cops, to assholes, we all look the same. We all fit the description of the person who harasses the people who they think are real people. Our only point is to wash the floor and blame for bullshit.

    I love how neighborhoods that have been pleading and begging for protection for years got laughed at and told that crime couldn’t be fixed, but as soon as gentrification happened and some people who looked different than us moved in, magically they were able to put a dent in the crime problem.

    Seriously f*ck the police and the squad car they drove in on.

    I was so disturbed by your comment Chimalti that you had to suffer that indignity for what? For nothing, people who have never been harassed for being a person of color (and we’re women, can you imagine being a guy) will never know how horrible and degrading it is to have a cop question you and follow you for some bullshit.

    We need to do some marching in the street.
    Browne

  8. Perhaps I’m extremely cynical but I don’t expect more or less from law enforcement. Growing up in Los Angeles, you see how things work and do your best to avoid situations that you don’t want to be in. Sometimes though, when you least expect it, you can find yourself in trouble for no apparent reason – this is what’s most scary. It’s that wild in-between. I just saw the movie Changeling, it’s appropriate to the discussion we’re having here.

  9. That’s the thing man (didn’t see the movie just went to IMDB) they dont’ kill you in the US, they just make everyone think you’re crazy. If you don’t follow the line, people write you off as a nut job and you know that’s worse than being killed.

    Browne

  10. OK, I wanna join in on the police abuse dialogue fun too.

    As a young man with a shaved head and prominent eyebrows (my pic is somewhere in http://www.elacamp.org) I often fit the stereotype of what a cholo looked like to law enforcement. I never wore size 50 ben davis or cortez, but I wore baggy clothes and have a face that many people have noted looks “angry” even when I am not(which was a boon to girlfriends with low self esteem but a curse when there are any “issues” between me and my wife). Even when caught with weed or having sex in a dark public place with girlfirends, I never got anything beyond “get the hell outta here and stay out of trouble” from barrio cops such as Hollenbeck Division or East LA/ Puente Sheriffs (I had an ELA and Puente Sheriff both take pulls from lit joints I got caught with at 2 seperate occassions and note “that’s good shit”). In fact, cops often noticed I looked kind of “tough” but was not a gangster to cops/cholos expreienced in the field, which got me the “you should be careful around here” response a few times despite living a few blocks away, Now smaller nicer towns and PD’s are totally different.

    Anyways, I have a nice 2 inch long scar on the back of my head given to me by Monterey Park PD when I was 17. I was stopped for walking at night (which is somehow a crime? it has occurred several times) near ELAC and after being aggressively detained for over 45 minutes with no actual reason I began to get annoyed and mouth off (if by saying “I have rights and this is not okay, you have nothing on me let me go” is considered being disresepctful to police, which it was in this case) which enraged the officers in such a short time that even I was suprised at, mind you by then I had been beaten or abused by cops several times by then.

    The officer had me sitting on the curb with my knees, arms and fingers all crossed when one of them grabbed my arm and pulled it behind my back in a very painful way. Before I could respond to the pain in my arm I had a knee on my neck and was on my side while the kneeing cop yelled “you wanna be a smartass, fucker”. At that point I yelled “WTF?” and went limp, which somehow provoked another cop to pull out their baton (or boot, I couldnt see) and hit me on the head which was totally disorienting. While going in and out of consciousness I remember people driving by complaining to the cops and them telling the motorists (shut the F up or you’ll be next”. I literally woke up several hours later, untreated, when the Monterey Park bailiff let me out of the jail, with no arrest or record of the incident. I had my mom take me to the hospital where I got 2 dozen staples on my head and the doctor pushed in a loose front tooth and told me to go see a dentist (oddly, the tooth healed perfectly, a similar thing happened with my other front tooth when I got jumped at age 14).

    When I went to file a complaint and request some kind of action, I was dismissed by the watch commander and basically told I have no evidence and if I did it was my fault and I was lucky I was not arrested for assaulting an officer (which contradicted his first comment and made no sense considering my hand and fingers were still crossed when I began to be assaulted). I filed the complaint and never heard about it after that.

    Now, I dont note this incident to get sympathy or feel like part of the crowd, I say it to note a pattern I have seen with the MPPD and other small police depts. in nicer areas, especially when they abut barrios. Monterey park Police have a reputation and history of treating young minority men very harshly when no crime has been committed. I am a dad and am concerned about crime being addressed and mitigated as much as I am about minority rights and mitigating police abuse, I am glad to see police thwarting criminal activity no matter who is the perpetraitor, I even think it is acceptable for cops to stop and question (but not abuse) folks who are outright gang members. That kind of mindframe is borne out of being the victim of gang members since youth as well as a few instances of police brutality, and it creates a thin line between responsible enforcement and abuse, but officers should be familiar with that line as they should be the experts on who is a gangster and who is not.

    So in essence, I do support cops stopping obvious gangsters (neck tats, size 50 dickies or oversized herseyes, the gangster walk, head tats, lokes) in order to mitigate crime, I do not support cops using this fear mandate to harass any young (generally male) minority they find in their city and overly cite certain communities of color disproportionately for crimes other demographics arent as doggedly pursued about.

    I am using my personal story not to get the ball roling on the half dozen times I have been abused by cops, but to illustrate how the Monterey Park PD has a precedence of overaggressiveness and often abusive force on minority men, specifically Latino and Black men with short hair. Almost every Latino (and a few Asian) man I know, from my 50 year old stepdad to my nerdy best friend who never has gotten into any trouble in his life, have stories of MPPD overly harassing them when they were doing nothing wrong. When you got to Alhambra court (which processes tickets for monterey park) the line has a far more Latinos and blacks than is proportionate in the community as well as racial breakdowns of crime suspects that occur in the area. In terms of Asians, there are a lot more young gangsterish/working class people at the court, which is weird because the bulk of driving worthy of tickets I see in Alhmabra occurs by elderly or middle aged Asians, not young guys. Although it is equally concerning to me that young Asian men are overly cited out of their demographic, the horrifying thing is that for brown and black men even this delineation does not occur in the same regard.

    Older black and brown men are also overrepresented in the courts compared to their presence in the area. From what I have seen and heard both amongst minority residents and actual candid officers, MPPD (and other local small departments) have a “ticket at the drop of a hat” policy for minorities, specifically males, becuase (in my presumption) these people are expendable so what if they cant afford the ticket and get a warrant. Tickets for tinting, jaywalking, litering, going 2 miles above the speed limit, having reasonable a;terations that are still ticektable on your car, getting actually arrested for smoking weed, drinking in public, usig illegal fireworks or legal ones outside of the 4th of july, overly aggressive enforcement of codes on Latino businesses and homes (I have a buddy whose house has gotten several citations for grass being left unmowed for 2 weeks while his Asian neighbors leave couches and mattresses on their front lawn on top of uncut grass), as well as the infamous pulling people over for looking or acting “suspicious” and then citing them for loitering, evading arrest or assaulting an officer or using that threat as a way to coerce the victim into not arguing a ridiculous ticket because they are just happy they are not being taken in.

    I wish I had time to make an actual topic of this, but my condolenses go out to Randall, that f’d up.

  11. Art,

    I’m glad you bring up Asian-American guys Art and how they get bothered by the police too. Lots of poc don’t think Asian counts, but it does. The reason many cops do things is out of racism and hate, though people like to put this class angle on it I know that isn’t the only thing. My ex husband was an Asian-American guy. He was upper middle class. He had a degree from a nice school. He did everything you are supposed to do. He was not in gang. He did have a dragon tattoo, but lots of people have dragon tattoos.

    I always felt many of the reasons that we broke up was owing to the fact that he was really angry. Angry at being an American born, perfect English speaking American boy, movie star looks of Chinese descent who didn’t appreciate being constantly stopped and pulled over by the cops, and constantly asked about his citizen status and constantly asked about why he spoke English so well.

    He was booked numerous times for just not being ok with being treated like an asshole by cops. Nothing formal, but still. That wears on a person.

    I remember being stopped with him so many times (in the SGV) by the cops for nothing, for him just being Asian and having the nerve of having a nice car. They would stop him and ask him, stuff like, “Why do you have a Mercedes are you WC.” and my experience with him and how racist they were to him when he tried to start a business in Arcadia, when he tried to start little programs in Monterey Park when he tried to be open and good and decent and he just kept getting stomped on until they broke him.

    My experience with him put in my head its not just about class, its not just about looking like a gang member, sometimes its just about good old fashion racism.

    And how dare you if you are person of color, how dare you not just suck it up and deal with it.

    They beat the crap out of you Art, not because you looked like a gang member or looked rough they beat the crap out of you because you didn’t know your place and that’s why I hate cops. I hate with they do to men of color especially.

    You know I wish cops enforced things fairly, but they can’t seem to tell the difference especially when a neighborhood is beginning to get gentrified, when that happens all of sudden any one of color meets the description. In downtown I’m always seeing young (and not so young) latino and black guys getting stopped and I know they haven’t done anything the vast majority of the time I know they are getting stopped just because. In downtown LA if you are a person of color they only stop bothering you once they realize that you are someone.

    That is why every person of color down here is always given out their damn resume every time they do something.

    “don’t beat me massa, i’m one of the good ones.”

    f*ck that noise.

    We are still so accepting of bullshit.

    Browne

  12. Slightly off topic, but you know I see race and class played out in the system, police, corporate, just random is by who I date and how we get treated and random places. Since I have dated everybody it’s weird. It’s weird how wildly differently people are treated just based on race or perceived class. I feel like I’m privy to special information and I should write a paper on it or something. Its not like everyone experiences the same thing, but everyone experiences something.

    I remember me and BusTard were going to move into this co-op type living situation and they were totally into me, but they weren’t into him. He wasn’t the right class. I could tell and it just made me so mad, its like these pseudo liberal assholes…BusTard is more progressive then any of these vegan, cycling assholes, but you know he is not from the right “background,” you know how it is. If you’re progressive and you’re white and you’re slumming with some 100,000 degree in the attic that’s cool. If you’re progressive and you’re white and you consciously made particular choices and you don’t have a trust-fund and you just have a high school diploma, well you’re not quite the same.

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