Fighting Law Enforcement Brutality While Living with Trauma in a World of Impunity
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 3 December 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 15 December 2018
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By all rights, I should be dead. Not once, but a number of times. On 23 March 1979, as a 24-year-old, I witnessed and photographed the brutal beating of a young man in a sarape by some 10–12 Sheriff’s deputies on Whittier Blvd
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By all rights, I should be dead. Not once, but a number of times. On 23 March 1979, as a 24-year-old, I witnessed and photographed the brutal beating of a young man in a sarape by some 10–12 Sheriff’s deputies on Whittier Blvd in East Los Angeles. In turn, the deputies turned on me with their riot sticks cracked my skull, and sent me to the hospital, charging me with attempting to kill 4 of the deputies. On my arrest report, it stated that I was the leader of a gang of 10–15 Mexicans. With active death threats from the original Sheriff’s deputies that drove me to the jail ward of the LA County Hospital, I was subsequently arrested/detained some 60 additional times, primarily by Sheriff’s deputies and LAPD officers. By the end of the year, the criminal charges were dropped and 6 years after that, I emerged victorious in a lawsuit. That was a generation ago. No. That was at least two generations ago. I healed long ago from PTSD, though the brutality I witnessed and lived continues to reside within me, intergenerationally. This defies explanation. I am healed, yet the trauma continues to live within my body, even some 40 years after the fact. My life thereafter has been dedicated to the elimination not only of this brutality, but also a trauma that I can literally trace to 1492 on this continent through my studies on this topic. How do the Red-Black-Brown communities of this nation heal when that brutality and that memory have always been present intergenerationally and are not going away anytime soon? I want to explore the tension between fighting for the elimination of law enforcement abuse and living with that intergenerational trauma. The subtext of [anti-indigenous] racial profiling as used against Mexicans in this society, from police to immigration agents to the media, will be examined in this first-person article. How the survivors of this brutality and their families, who have lost loved ones and who fight against this brutality live with these traumas—particularly with the knowledge that as a result of impunity, there is no end in sight to this brutality—will also be examined.