Descending Into Hell
Readers took to Twitter to profess their horror after reading last week's cover story about the horrific conditions for disabled inmates in the county jails ("Wheelchair Hell in Men's Central Jails," by Chris Vogel). "A must-read," writes One Hot Processor. "I am starting to get really pissed off at our criminal justice system," writes LucasRog. Concludes R3431, "Depressing."
Reader Russell Shiek emailed to say that he was cell mates for six months with Christian Reyes, who was profiled in our story. "That was just the tip of the iceberg," he writes. "I watched them kick the ass of more than one person confined to a wheelchair during the last few years. The tripped-out thing underlying all of this is the fact that these cops feel immune to any kind of retribution from their side of the law. The other cops have their back."
Shiek reports that the situation remains hellish. "People need to know that it has not changed one iota," he writes. "And, it won't."
Our mailbag, alas, suggests Shiek is right: It turns out that many of you have zero sympathy for anyone who ends up in jail. "This guy is guilty of shooting at people, and we are to feel sorry for his injuries and treatment? Stop — you are breaking my heart," Fred writes.
Adds Bob, "As cruel as this will sound, he wasn't stepping out of the library at the school he attends to get a better life. He was, and I would imagine still is, an active member of a gang. Gangs hurt, rob, murder and rape innocent people daily. This young punk should be grateful to be alive. He should also ask himself, 'What did I do to deserve this?' He could probably write a book."
That drew a retort from Renee1234. She writes, "What you fail to realize is that, at that stage, he was charged with a crime, not convicted, and there is this thing called a presumption of innocence.
"You also fail to realize that not everyone who was crawling on the floor and sitting in shit all day were charged with violent crimes. Some no doubt were being held from nonviolent crimes and just could not afford bail. God forbid if this should happen to you or someone you care about. Sheriff Lee Baca needs to be held accountable for this travesty."
Finally, we heard from Disgusted, who writes, "Really? You're writing an article about serious civil rights violations and you feel the need to describe the female civil rights attorney as 'sporting an upscale-librarian look'? Jeez Louise, could L.A. Weekly crawl into the 21st century?"
Miffed, and Wesson
We also heard from readers who were unhappy with the caricature accompanying our Dec. 9 piece on Herb Wesson, newly elected president of the L.A. City Council ("The Unbearable Lightness of Herb Wesson," by Hillel Aron). "Does Wesson have a diamond tooth?" asks reader John. "If not, this is one of the most racist illustrations I have seen in a long while. What next? Bernard Parks with a bone through his nose?"
Reader Michael Higby didn't like the illustration either, calling it "over the top and a tad on the racial side." However, he adds, "The rest of this I agree with. They don't call it the Clowncil for nothing. It is clearly a circus. More importantly and more sadly, L.A.'s elected officials are so deep in bed with special interests there really is not much that can be done to save the city, short of thousands of folks waking up and getting involved."
Reader Sprint20 agrees. "Herb Wesson should be considered a placeholder as council president until the new power alignment in L.A. shakes out in the city general election. Wesson is not devious or malicious, but he is such a feel-good lightweight that we should expect the thieves will have a field day pilfering the city silverware under Wesson's myopic, daydreamy watch."
Dance of the Riot Squad
We also heard from the Rev. Mateo Katez, who took issue with our Dec. 9 analysis of the dismantling of the Occupy L.A. camp ("Occupy L.A. Choreographed," by Ryan Deto). Deto reported that there were only five injuries and that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the "professionalism and restraint of the 1,400 officers" on the scene.
Writes Katez, "The injuries exceeded five. I was mishandled by the LAPD, and those injuries went unreported, as were those of many others. As an eye-witness, I take issue with the branding of this raid as a celebration of the 'restraint' of the LAPD. Furthermore, the militaristic tactics used against peaceful citizens were not necessary, especially considering the costs involved with such an operation."
Reader Caroline agrees. "The Occupy L.A. camp was put in a position to take care of the homeless that were, and are always, there. The police and local authorities knew that the real occupiers were committed to peaceful protests.
"Instead of the city spending who-knows-how-much to show such ridiculous force to dismantle the occupiers, they could have sent in social services to help house, feed and medically treat the homeless and those that needed it. So they are all patting themselves on the back for having possibly ruined the last opportunity for real change of our system for the rest of us — and, for that matter, themselves, who are also the 99 percent. The scary part was seeing the warlike behavior and outfitting of the police against peaceful citizens who only want to uncover the corruption that has slimed our democracy."
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