Shelter in Place Day 77
Another long one, friends.
Last night I received two alerts, one on our telephone, letting us know that Long Beach has declared a State of Emergency and will have a curfew beginning at 8 PM to 5 AM.
Then I received an alert on my phone: The City of Long Beach has declared a citywide curfew from 8pm tonight to 5am tomorrow. Stay inside. Only people traveling to and from work, seeking or giving emergency medical care, and emergency responders are allowed outside. More information at www.longbeach.gov.
This isn’t what I signed up for, but this is what is happening. I believe that our neighborhood won’t be an issue. But, I didn’t think that neighborhoods were an issue until the video where they shot a paintball at people standing on their porch.
Our apartment is on the third floor, and our building is near the 405 and 710. I’ve heard and seen a few pictures of looting and broken windows on Atlantic Blvd, a couple blocks away. Lots of helicopters circling overhead and sirens. But, I don’t know if they’re ambulances or police cars.
I’m scared because everything is going to get worse. In nearly every picture or video I saw, face masks were an afterthought. I believe in the protests. It was so peaceful in Long Beach today. People knelt and held signs and then there was another announcement that stated Los Angeles County was setting the curfew for 6pm, and that was sent out at 522 last night. It didn’t give people enough time to get home, I hope everyone got home on time.
Twenty-five years ago, I lived in West Covina and I had to take a bus to my job just down the street from the Glendale Galleria. It was a two-bus ride, one to downtown LA. And the second took me through LA along Temple Street to Bellevue Avenue and onward to Glendale.
No one talked to each other that morning, there was word that the Rodney King verdict was going to be announced. I didn’t think about it, got to work and it was quite, I was working for an insurance company, but no one was calling and around three the verdicts were announced and someone had a radio on and we were hearing about the riots that were starting.
I had a couple more hours of work, and as the day wore on things we’re getting worse. I said I was heading to the bus and that’s when my boss said, you can’t take the bus through LA, there’s rioting. I said, “Where will I go?”
She was an old friend of mine from youth group, Tanya La Fave, and she said, just spend the night at my house and maybe it’ll be better tomorrow. We could see fires in the distance, I think she lived in Marina del Rey at the time. We probably drank a little too much that night, but when we did wake up in the morning we turned on the news and took stock of the situation.
She decided she was going to go home to her parents’ house and she’d drop me off at my parents’ house. We stopped at the insurance office and she let the people who were in early stay, but she called the later crew not to come in. She found broken glass in the windows downstairs and we saw national guard tanks driving down Brand Boulevard.
I think the tanks made her close up the shop super early, at eleven she sent everyone home. We decided not to take the 101 through downtown and opted to take the 5 to the 134 through Eagle Rock to the 210 through Pasadena to Azusa to get to the condo I lived in, with my parents.
It felt like we were running from a tornado or a flood that made everyone search for higher ground. I mean the freeway was packed and it was noon. Everyone was getting out of town. There wasn’t a diamond lane on that freeway and Tanya got onto the shoulder and this guy was yelling at me, I had my window down. He says, “That’s an emergency lane.”
I shouted back, “This is an emergency.”
He started cussing me out and Tanya rolled up my window and turned on the AC. But the moment we got in the emergency lane, so did everyone else. And when we drove past Eagle Rock, it took my breath away, you couldn’t see any of the city. All the smoke from the fires in Downtown Los Angeles had wafted over the hillside and blanketed the city of Eagle Rock in thick smoke.
We got home, two stupid white thirty-year-olds freaking out. And I feel the same way now, at fifty-five. The difference is the fear in me is increased because I’m living in a place, blocks away from destruction. And there is still a mother fucking pandemic going on.
This is only escalating, it’s going to get far worse than anyone thought it would. I’d be out there protesting, but I can’t trust that I’d bring anything home to The Husbear.
I know as a white man, my voice needs to be quieter, and I need to listen to the voices of Black people and other people of color. I don’t know how to do that here, so I will simply ask.
How are you making space for and amplifying the voices of the people of color in your lives?