I grew up in a small suburb next to the hustling, bustling streets of East Los Angeles, infamously known for its gang violence and drug abuse. I was so close to this incredible city that only a couple blocks from my house was the sign that read “Bienvenidos a Los Angeles!” When I was growing up I never really noticed any of the signs that I was living in a so-called “bad neighborhood”; it wasn’t until I grew up that I began to see some of the signs. I was not allowed to play or sit down and read in the front yard unless there was an adult with me up until I was about 15 years old. I had grown accustomed to the sound of helicopters fly overhead that I barely even notice anymore. I was not allowed to go in my front yard to grab something from my car unless there was an adult standing at the front door. I could not walk anywhere by myself, even if it was just for exercise. Our family german shepherd was for safety more than family enjoyment. These rules that I grew up with seemed normal, they were for my safety because I was just a kid. Surprisingly, it was not until high school when I learned that these rules seemed overbearing to some of my peers. I would often looked shocked as they told me stories of walking to convenient stores by themselves or having picnics in their front yards. Only ever seeing police cars when they get pulled over for a ticket or there is a noise complaint for a party. What made my home, a place I have always felt safe and in, so different?
The lack of police presence was the most unfamiliar concept I had to grasp when I finally went to high school. The police I encountered are armed with “hand-me-down” military weaponry, had mustang chargers as police cars, and even stopped to question someone if they looked “suspicious”. Racial profiling and police brutality are completely different blog posts to write about, I want to focus primarily on the police influence on gangs within East Los Angeles. Gangs can be seen as battling their own war within different cities, a social war. This does not trivialize the many deaths and crimes that are linked to these gangs. The many atrocious acts committed by these gangs can almost be linked as a war of terror. One of the main focuses of this quarter is defining a terrorist and what acts can be used to fight against them. Does the militarization of the police force lessen the severity of these gangs? Are gangs’ only purpose to threaten and terrorize the common public?
I believe that the police force that occupy the more dangerous areas view gangs much like how the military views various terrorists groups around the world. Of course the government must deal with much bigger consequences when dealing with terrorist groups, but the loss of life is the same fear.