(This is the second part in a series on how police actions can make people feel unsafe in their own communities. After all, if one can’t be outside in their own space without fear of harassment, be it from the police or gangs, then how can a street be Livable? Read part one, here. – DN)
If you spot Sammy Carrera riding his bike in Boyle Heights, you won’t think much of it. At 5’5, bald and wearing a baggy shirt and jeans, and an amiable smile hidden behind his glasses, Carrera can’t go down the street without running into a familiar face. Always one to stop for a moment to say ‘wad up,’ he’s know in the community as a member of Corazon del Pueblo and all around swell guy. Yet at the same time, he can’t go down the same street without fear of being stopped and questioned by LAPD officers from the Hollenbeck Division because of the same baldhead and baggy clothes that help him stand out.
On November 2nd, 2011 Carrera was making his way to the Annual Self Help Graphics Day of the Dead Celebrations. He never could imagine that he’d end up beat up and in jail. On that night, Los Angeles Police officers from Hollenbeck Division stopped to question him after he was mistaken for an unidentified gang-banger, whom officers were looking for that same night.
He cooperated with officers and their orders, but as Carrera asked and pressed as to why he was being stopped and searched, the officers got more and more aggressive. “Shut the fuck up, you don’t know who the fuck we are man, we’re the LAPD, when we tell you what to do, you do that shit our way,” are just some of the comments Carrera claims officers made during the stop.
Due to his profile, shaved head and baggy clothes, officers mistook him for the unidentified suspect they were looking for that night. What followed resulted with Carrera having a swollen eye and other injuries from the arresting officers. “Everything that they asked me to do, I complied, all while asking them, ‘what the fuck is going on?’ I was really shocked, especially at the way they came at me,” says Carrera.
The line between serving and harassing the community is one that officers have abused in the past, but is still commonplace in working class communities of color such as Boyle Heights. While police cause pause for people walking down the street, the violent history, and it’s current state in the community, still impact community members that are caught in the cross fire.
Protection from Harassment or Harassment from Over Protection Read more…