Makes me wanna holler -- throw up both my hands!!!
I was standing at the back of the dimly lit dance. I must have been 15 years young at the time. I lacked a great deal of experience partying up to that point in my life, so I was wired and ready to “party.” Something told me I was going to have a night I would never forget. I have never forgotten that night. I guess “something” was right on a night so wrong!
Peering through the blurred maze of people amidst the shadowy dance hall I noticed there was a flashing light suddenly flickering by the door on the far side of the room. I suddenly realized that flickering light was a series of gunshots erupting. Quickly looking across the room, trying to take in the reaction to the gunshots at the same time trying to decide if I should run for a door, or lay flat on the floor, I noticed across the room a guy in a corner loading a shotgun. Of course, that really got my attention, almost to the point of me freaking out, but I kept my cool in check long enough to realize I needed to get far away from him before he successfully loaded and engaged his weapon. As I scanned the room for an exit far away from him I saw the first shooting victim I would encounter that night. I only saw a glimpse of him because I was stepping around and over people like I was playing bumper hopscotch, only with much more at stake. You couldn’t avoid body contact and stepping on people because they were either falling or diving to the floor. Most others were running, but in the dark you were either hearing the thuds or thudding into someone yourself. And then there were the screams of anguish by the many people who ran to the doors only to find many of them chained. That night, over 10 people were shot. Fortunately I don’t recall anyone dying that night, though it was still one of those Blair Witch moments, only before Blair Witch was ever conceived, and very, very real!
This was not inner city L.A., but the recreation park at Ladera Heights. Ladera Heights is a neighborhood that was definitely upscale in its day, not necessarily at the level of Beverly Hills, though some of its residents/nearby residents definitely could have lived in Beverly Hills if they had chosen (Tina and Ike Turner, Ray Charles). So how odd is it that this type of violence could occur in such an upper middle class environment? Not that violence doesn’t erupt in all communities. Of course it does! But would you be surprised to discover that the entire incident evolved around a denial of entrance to the dance to a group of young men from outside the community. Also, it was allegedly over a leather coat that was demanded by one of the pseudo gangsters from a not so innocent bystander. The details being whatever they are, I’m curious as to your take on the fact that one group’s inability to pay, or desire not to pay, and desire over a coat that wouldn’t have been desired if it could have been easily afforded by both combatants, were the criteria for the outsiders taking defiant, violent action and “turning the party out.”
Would a very wealthy group of students resort to violence over the admission price to a dance and attempt to end it? Why-Why not? Would a middle class group of students resort to violence in the same situation? Why-Why not? So, why would the underclass youth be resorting to such actions?
Oh, and for the record, this incident happened in a predominantly black neighborhood. It was overwhelmingly attended by black folk. So, before you logically gravitate towards thoughts on black on black crime (often considered internalized racism/self hatred), recognize that the motivating factor might have been classism or the inner workings-consequences of capitalism. If not that, what? Lastly, are people born with their morality in place, or are those values learned within a society that celebrates individual prosperity and looks away from social poverty. As Marvin Gaye once swooned “What’s Goin On?”