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Commentary | Voices: A Forum For Community Issues

Inglewood Views Divide Along a Thin Blue Line

July 20, 2002

Videotaped violence against 16-year-old Donovan Jackson on July 6 produced a wave of community protest and now the indictments of two officers of the Inglewood Police Department. Local political leaders and national figures--Dick Gregory, Martin Luther King III and Al Sharpton, among other--have marched in protest. Two people who work or live in Inglewood spoke with MARY REESE BOYKIN about the incident and the indictments.

Fernando Rodriguez

Supermarket Assistant Produce Manager

Inglewood

I feel pleased that, finally, somebody caught them on videotape. It is good that two of the officers were indicted; they got what they deserved. Now, at least in Inglewood, cops won't act as crazy as they did before.

For 2 1/2 months, my friends and I have been upset with our treatment by officers of the Inglewood Police Department. In our encounter, I got off work, wearing a white shirt and tie. I went to my friend's house in an area of Inglewood known for gang activity. Four of us were standing in front of the house as I checked out my friend's automobile, which was not running well.

The police drove up, four officers at first and then another two. They told us to put our hands up. They searched us. At their command, we spread our legs. But they told us to spread wider and wider. They acted as if we were putting up a fight; they tried to aggravate us to start something.

They pushed us against the car. Then an officer asked, "Are you gang-related?" We all said no. They took pictures of us for their gang file anyway.

We asked, "Why are you putting us in the gang file if we are not gang members?" An officer answered, "Don't worry about it."

I felt violated. I don't think that people should be treated that way. I am 22. I have a wife and three daughters. I just work and take care of my own.

A community response needs to happen.

*

V. G. Guinses

Executive Director

Save Every Youngster Youth

Enterprise Society

Once the teenager was handcuffed, the force was supposed to stop. But there is a big difference between this beating and that of Rodney King. Inglewood's police, investigators and the district attorney's office have moved quickly. Even the L.A. County Grand Jury has indicted two officers. We must have some patience. We need to show respect for our local political leaders, many of whom always are fighting for the community. Young activists need to show respect for these leaders instead of name-calling or pointing fingers.

We had outsiders coming here, saying what we need to do. Let them take care of their own homes. At the rallies, many of them are getting into Inglewood's business. They don't know how to get to the Inglewood City Hall without directions.

I work with ex-gang members in Los Angeles County, including Inglewood. A sentiment many of them express is that outsiders don't come here unless there are television cameras.

In all of this, we must deal with the problems that constantly plague our community. We must address the drive-by shootings, the lack of jobs, the need for educating our children. And there is something we can learn from gang members: unite and communicate. Simply talking to the television cameras won't get the job done.

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