By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Spiderman and I were trying to get to the beach to fill up the buckets with salt water to drown all the trees. I pointed to the buckets in the back seat.
"Get out of the car and put your hands on your head, sir," said the officer, who was clearly not impressed. I did what he asked. After he checked my registration, he looked at me, then shook his head like I was an idiot and let me go.
A month after the '92 riots, I was taking a left in Marina del Rey when my passenger, Feral House book publisher Adam Parfrey, and I noticed a black-and-white tailing us. It kept following us for blocks without pulling us over. Thinking I had done nothing wrong, I decided to shake the cops by driving into the tough neighborhood of Oakwood. As we pulled up to an intersection where a clutch of black homeboys were standing, the lights came on and we pulled over.
A Hispanic officer came up to my window while a black cop came up to Adam's. "This must look good to the homies, pulling over a couple of white dudes in the hood, eh?" I said to the cop on my side.
He immediately stepped back, pulled out his gun and pointed it at my head. "Get out of the car and keep your hands up!" he shouted. He immediately cuffed me while the black cop kept watch on Adam. The Hispanic officer began tearing my car apart and pulling crap out of my trunk and chucking it into the street. Finding nothing, he uncuffed me and wrote me a ticket for crossing the solid white left-hand-turn line back on Lincoln.
Putting my junk back in the car, Adam shouted at me. "Next time something like that happens, keep your big Irish mouth shut, asshole!"
—Michael Collins, 45,
freelance writer, Weeklycontributor and Venice resident
Three or four months ago, I was pulled over in Hollywood for a broken headlight and having out-of-state plates. The officer who pulled me over gave me a fix-it ticket with a promise to appear. Unfortunately, I lost the ticket with the da te of my court appearance. I attempted to contact the courts to remedy the situation, but when I called the L.A. Courthouse I was given the runaround and never was able to find out just how to fix my ticket. Months passed until finally my dad called me from Connecticut to tell me that he received notice that my license was suspended for failure to appear.
Not knowing what I should do, I approached one of the officers who frequent the Starbucks where I work. The officer told me not to panic and provided me with a handful of numbers to fix my ticket. I called the numbers he gave me, and my problem was fixed immediately. If it wasn't for the officer, I would probably still be in the same boat.
—Krysta Florczyk, 27,
shift supervisor, Starbucks
I couldn't have been much more than 19, and I was living in a windowless warehouse in Frogtown. It was around 1987. One day I decided to weed the low brick planters outside my front door, which looked as if they had not been touched in 50 years. Clad in work clothes and enjoying the sun on my face and the dirt on my hands, I half thought the police in the cop cruiser that pulled up were about to congratulate me for beautifying this grim neighborhood.
Instead, a grilling began.
"What are you doing?" asked one of the cops.
"'Cause there are weeds. Just trying to clean it up some."
The questions continued rapid-fire, and became increasingly personal: Do you live here? With whom? Are you married? Where do you work?
This was not friendly pickup banter.
I finally said, "What is the problem here? For what possible reason would you need to know the answers to these questions?"
"I'm a cop," he said. "I can do whatever I want." He continued: "And I am going to check and see whether it is legal for you to be living here, and if not, you are going to be out on your ass."
Shaking, I drew up all of my skinny 5-foot frame and slowly approached the car. "Sir," I said, "what is your badge number?"
He gave it to me and, still hurling invectives, drove off with his partner.
As soon as I locked my door behind me, I dialed the Northeast Division. The bastard had already contacted his watch commander, who explained that, because a census year was coming up, the police were instructed to look for illegal immigrants living in unapproved dwellings.
"Do I sound like an illegal immigrant?" I half-yelled into the phone. "From where? Canada?"
Well, no ma'am, but they have to check.
The same cops, for the next two months, would tail my '67 Cutlass all the way to the Franklin Bridge whenever I made my forays into Hollywood.
A tattooed arm leaning out a car window, a flash of green hair, or the wrong band's bumper sticker on your car was enough to get you pulled over and harassed. Or even the simple act of pulling weeds in ä the wrong neighborhood. All you had to be was different from them.