Confronting the LAPD… AGAIN
After the events of the past couple of weeks (see last post) we have been on our toes. Every Wednesday and Friday we wake up and are unsure of what will happen today as we go to serve breakfast to the hungry at the corner of 4th and Merrick. I will be honest it is tiring to be on edge like this all of the time, to wake up with the knowledge that you could find yourself in cuffs in a couple of hours for doing what it is you do five days a week. But we still wake up when we could stay in bed and we still serve food even though we could find some other use of our time.
Wednesday was the first time we had met with the LAPD since they had cited a member of our community the week before. We had finished our normal routine without a single incident. Our friends had gotten a good meal and were happy and so we were happy. We had cleaned up without any huge glitches and prepared to go onto what it is we do every Wednesday (and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday for that matter) which is vigil for an end to war. Our truck was loaded and had pulled away to go clean up at the kitchen and we loaded into our small white mini van. The only problem, the van wouldn’t start. “NOT TO WORRY! It’s just a loose connection on the battery, easily fixed in a couple of minutes. Pop the hood and turn the ignition when I tell you.” Before we could even pop the hood though 7 squad cars and about 10 officers pull around the corner with a large flat bed truck ready to confiscate our equipment.
The scene was absolutely preposterous. There were more cops there (9 or 10) than there were Catholic Workers (6, all professed pacifists mind you). All of our equipment was gone so the health inspectors could not cite us for being unclean and we were legally parked so we couldn’t get another bullshit ticket for blocking the streets and sidewalk. They couldn’t do anything except waste what must have amounted to thousands of tax payer dollars in man power. We were invited to come and learn how to safely handle food at the country health departments meeting for vendors. Vendor? We are no such thing. We don’t sell our food. We are just a group of people getting together to have a picnic with our friends who happen to be homeless. We politely told them no thank you and proceeded to take a number of group photos in front of lined up police cruisers and bored looking officers (including a major and two corporals). As they drove away we stood in a group waving in unison as we sang the tune of “Happy Trails.”
It seemed to me that the police have plenty of reason to be mad at us. We didn’t roll over as so many people do when they are threatened for serving the poor and then when they came to show us they meant it all we could do was make a mockery of them as they had arrived 5 minutes to late. We expect them to be out in full force tomorrow, most likely on time, but we aren’t sure. Maybe they will wait a couple of days or maybe they won’t but we will be ready either way. We are all prepared to go to jail before we are prepared to ignore the gospels and that is exactly what we plan to do if the time comes.