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toward EQUALITY : EXPLORING A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE : ON THE STREET Where You Live : GLENDALE

February 13, 1989|EDWIN CHEN | Times Staff Writer

The early-morning jogger was lost in thought as he made a final loop around the dew-covered knolls of Glendale's Oakmont Country Club.

"This is for members only!" a woman in a nifty sweat suit shouted.

How did she know the runner was not a member? It seemed unlikely that she would know every club member, unless. . . . Unless it was because the jogger was not an Anglo, as the woman was.

Could it be that the club membership was, how shall we say it, racially exclusive? Nah. Not in this day and age.

Was subtle racism at work here? Perhaps. But let's give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she did know by sight each and every club member. Yet a nagging uncertainty would persist.

This was, after all, Glendale.

Fairly or not, this city has long endured the nasty reputation of having failed to come to terms with being a diverse, multicultural community. Is it true?

To this two-year resident of Glendale, the answer seems to be mixed.

The headlines of recent years have hardly helped.

In 1987, a Municipal Court commissioner was accused--unfairly as facts finally emerged--of having used a racial epithet from the bench. Last year, the courts ruled that the city of Glendale had discriminated against a Latino police sergeant by repeatedly passing him over for promotion into the all-white supervisorial ranks.

At the same time, it was revealed that the city's only black policeman had not worked for a more than a year because of what he called stress caused by racial discrimination. The policeman had testified in the Latino officer's discrimination case and later described in his workers' compensation case vicious acts of harassment, including a cross-burning.

An Arab-American businessman came to work on a Monday morning and found "White Power" graffiti on his pet hospital. That same weekend, similar graffiti appeared on the premises of six other minority-owned Glendale businesses.

A city official said of the perpetrators: "These people are anti-foreigner, anti-Jewish, anti-black, anti-anything that is not white."

The most highly publicized incident occurred at a 1987 speaking appearance by white supremacist J. B. Stoner at the Glendale Holiday Inn. About three dozen people showed up to hear Stoner, but about 300 demonstrators appeared too. Before the night was over, several demonstrators were arrested, although there were complaints that no similar charges were filed against Ku Klux Klan members and Nazi supporters involved.

Stoner's appearance brought a rash of racially motivated vandalism, including the defacement of the city's only synagogue.

The perpetrators may not even be from Glendale, but such incidents only serve as painful reminders of the inevitable tensions that arise when diverse groups of people fail to co-exist.

Yet, Glendale remains a pleasant community in which to live and raise a family. The commute to downtown Los Angeles is a breeze on most days. The public schools offer solid educations--surely one of any city's major assets.

But the school system--and the city at large--will be tested severely in the months and years ahead as the rush of immigrants into Glendale continues.

Newspaper headlines aside, it takes no sociologist to recognize that Glendale is undergoing drastic transformation--or to detect the inevitable pressures these changes surely will bring. Indeed, one needs only to attend a Cub Scout pack meeting at the local elementary school and hear the scout leaders struggling valiantly with the surnames at roll call.

On our own little block, the homeowners include Latinos, Chinese, Jews, Italians and Lebanese.

Things seem to be looking up.

Last year, the executive board of the Glendale Human Relations Council moved to form an anti-hate crime task force and sought the backing of city leaders. The group would like to publish a pamphlet as a resource guide. In October, the city declared a month of intercultural awareness. The city is also planning to publish and distribute a handbook to help immigrants assimilate.

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