Mauricio has done a lot of thinking lately on the philosophy of police culture and how it has affected his life. He’s sees both sides. He sees all the players. The full spectrum, beyond the black, white and brown.
“There’s three of ’em,” he says, “Plato, Aristotle and fucking ... ah, what’s the other one? Socrates. He’s one of the greatest fucking philosophers of all time. Ignorance is bad, and good is fucking, like, knowledge. If you don’t know nothing, like I didn’t know nothing, everything goes bad. If you’re ignorant, you don’t know shit, like I didn’t. That’s a lesson I learned.”
We’re inside Mauricio’s new home, a few miles and light years from South L.A. Christ on the cross is prominent on the mantle of the tidy two-bedroom apartment. Mauricio’s mom is Catholic and grew up with nothing ... like the police chief. She’s a child of domestic violence and addiction, like the mayor.
Next to Jesus, a tightly rendered portrait of Cuauhtémoc, the Aztec emperor who ascended to the throne of his besieged city when he was 18 years old. Mauricio painted it during one of his incarcerations. On the floor is his backpack and a textbook from school, Automobile Technology. It’s not much, but he’s an alchemist committed to transforming a scrap from the middle-class table into a vehicle of emancipation. He’s decided he wants to be an auto mechanic.
“Every mind is a new world, it depends on how you see, you know?” Mauricio says. “There’re a lot of different personalities — more being born every day. That’s our future. And that’s why I’m hoping that it’s going to be better.”