Sunday afternoon–June 26–following a great victory over our freeway rivals under glorious skies –
My compa Lalo and I were walking back to his car near El Compadre on East Sunset – as we descended down Stadium Way and onto Lilac Terrace I silently marked the spot where last month an Anglo couple yelled at me after another game when I stopped near “their sidewalk” to call my wife. We continued down laughing and remembering the recent christening of my son at the Police Academy with our community: cholos, artists, teachers, politicians, activists and detectives from Robbery Homicide division of LAPD doing most of the cooking that fed a small happy army. In other words – we are of our community.
As an Angelino Heights resident and committed Echo Park chronicler I have been dismayed with the uptick in violence at the ball park, the invasions of our neighborhoods and and the deterioration of any sense that we live in a safe or ideal place where hipsters flood and shootings AND murder still occur as commonplace.
All that was tamped down yesterday afternoon as compa Lalo and I took stock and felt lucky to see such a great game (Tickets courtesy of Shortstop!). We were feeling good. I was telling Lalo how I keynoted at a recent National Theater Conference in LA and all I could speak about was Echo Park and the drama that plays out daily – not all of it bad – some of it oozing with stories of human kindness and caring. Then everything changed:
Just in front of us a young Anglo kid with dreadlocks was nearly sideswiped by mini van making a sharp turn up Douglas (the street I live off) It nearly hit him, he gave chase, when he returned to his group as we were all walking in the same direction we asked, if he was okay – did he need help or were those friends?
We were told to shut up and mind our own business and that they needed no back up – Okay I said but we live here and want to make sure you are okay and if you need us to call a cop – then:
I’M GOING TO KILL YOU
YOU PICKING ON THE THE WRONG GUYS –
Whoa whoa! Hey we’re the good guys –
I DON’T GIVE A FUCK – I’M GOING TO KILL YOU –
Now I need to call a cop –
These guys were amped – they were ready and we had no idea THEY were looking for this.
They pushed us into traffic – they got in our face – all the while were trying to back up –
The older guy had a black cane that quickly became a short stout weapon with a few clicks –
I’M GOING TO KILL YOU – kept coming –
This is the dreadlock fool –
Some Black Men with real dreads were watching in shock but mostly people were shooting iPhone video or pictures –
I look over and Lalo is getting punched – at that moment the older guy has me in a headlock –
I’m on the ground on Sunset Boulevard in a fierce chokehold near the curb wondering what the hell is going on in this world – I thought about my son and the baptism and whether I would breath again – in seconds. YES.
We moved down the street and suddenly we’re back at El Compa’s and many people came out to our defense but I was trying to place a citizen’s arrest on this thankless crazy ass A-holes who just assaulted us.
I feel like some people are acting out -against brown-skinned males – overreacting and ready since the Giant Fan beating that left us shocked and writing checks for his recovery. But these guys were ready to pounce and justice – some version of it must be carried out – I could identify them – and I will continue to ask people if they are okay – I will give thumbs up to nervous fans who come to the Stadium in opposing jersey’s – I will continue to go to the park -I don’t want to think its open season on brown men at the park but this felt something akin to this –
GO Dodger Blue!
Richard Montoya is an actor, playwright and member of Culture Clash, the ensemble that fuses satire and socio-political commentary.