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One summer night in the early 80s Ivan, Tony and I got into a little unwanted trouble. We were bored so we decided to do a small political action. In our neighborhood there was some Nazi graffiti along the train tracks, and being the anti-racist peace punks that we were, we decided to blot it out. But this was also cholo territory and we didn't want to get caught by the Aves tagging on their turf. So though the mission was simple, it was slightly dangerous. The job was rather unexciting, and in the end spray painting over the swastikas was the most uneventful part of our evening.
Afterward we decided to stop at 7-11 to get some whipped cream canisters to do some whip-its when we got home. We bought out the convenience store, porting over a dozen canisters to the car. As we pulled out an LAPD black and white tailed us and then signaled to pull over. We were sure we were busted for the graffiti. With gun pointed at us through the windshield, the first cop screamed at us to get out of the car, hands in the air. He slammed us face down onto the hood while berating us for being punk fags. "What happened to real men, you pussies," he screamed. "Since when do guys pierce their ears?!"
By now we were used to this routine. On the LAPD pecking order, they hated punks as much as blacks, Mexicans, and gays, so all us punks knew full well that we were in for rough night. Ivan previously had been beaten at the Hollywood police station, and I had been caught up in numerous police riots after shows that the press always attributed to punks. LAPD had gone to war against punk, so in those days it was normal to get harassed and beaten by them.
After patting us down and searching the car, the second cop produced the whipped cream canisters. Since he was playing the "good" cop, I asked him why we had been pulled over--a dangerous question that could potentially set off the moody other who was still ranting about fags. The "good" cop said we had been driving without headlights (phew!), but now wanted to know what the whipped cream was for. I didn't want to confess to getting a legal high, so I said the next thing that came to mind. I told him we were going to have a pie fight. It was potentially a hazardous thing to say. Either the bad cop would accuse us of being kinky queers, or beat us for being smart asses. But then the unexpected happened. I think what I said was absurd enough to defuse the cops' aggression. The "good" one dropped his guard, and then uttered a curious but thoughtful, "Oh..." Something clicked--maybe his mind drifted to an innocent Keystone Cop pie fight or some other old movie running through his childhood memories. He smiled. The three of us, our cheeks still pressed against the car hood, glanced at each other and nervously smiled back. A few minutes later the cops cut us loose with no citation and just a small slap on the wrist (and few bruised ribs!). We hurried home, a little shaky, but the whip-its took care of that.
And that was that: a typical punk rock night in LA.
- A Los Angeles Primer
- Arrival Stories
- Block by Block
- Engaging Spaces
- Green Justice
- I Am Los Angeles