Jaywalking At The Open

Maybe there's a reason the crowd torched a few cop cars at the U.S. Open in '86.

My how a mood can change in a few hours. I'd had a hilarious afternoon shooting video with Ian Walsh (which you'll see tomorrow), but then things took a more sinister turn. Here's how my last 30 minutes at the U.S. Open ended yesterday:

S. Whisper

Writing tickets to jaywalkers, one of the noble ways to serve and protect.

"I saw somebody walking up Main Street with this starfish. I took it from them and I'm trying to get it back to the ocean and save its life," explained an impassioned woman, standing at the corner of PCH and Main Street in Huntington, waving a big, purple starfish back and forth.

Her and I had both just been "pulled over" and were in the process of receiving jaywalking tickets from a Huntington Beach police officer, who incidentally appeared to be taking way too much satisfaction over busting such petty criminals. Surely there had to be some meth heads out there more worthy of his attention.

"You were in the crosswalk when the light turned red, ma'm, is a saving a starfish really worth getting hit by a car?" sarcastically replied the officer, not expressing any remorse or hint of emotion about the woman's dilemma. In fact, he had his ticket book out nearly before he got off his motorcycle. I knew right away we were getting tickets.

"Well, I just wanted to get the starfish back to the ocean. I wanted to save its life," said the woman

"That's pretty dumb," said the officer, "you could have been killed."

Besides asking for my ID, he didn't even bother to say anything to me. After all, I didn't nearly have the sense of urgency that the starfish rights activist did. I'd just been texting somebody and got caught halfway through crosswalk when the light turned. Rendered more or less speechless, I gave him my ID, snapped a couple photos of him as he was delightfully engrossed in writing my ticket, and then walked away with a Notice to Appear in a Huntington court on September 11th.

Before I go any further, let me give you a little historical perspective on why I disdain the Huntington police force so much, and why I'm thoroughly convinced they are Orange County's right-wing version of the Gestapo.

Ten years ago I was in a minor fender bender in Long Beach. I was on my way to a job interview in Huntington Beach and was in a rush. Without getting a police report, the driver of the other vehicle and I exchanged information and went on our separate ways. But on my drive down PCH I thought about the accident more and had a few questions. Once I got to Huntington I parked my car near a police substation and with a few minutes to kill poked my head in to see if I could get a couple quick answers.

"So you didn't get a police report?" asked the officer sitting behind the desk.

"No, I didn't get a police report." I answered.

"Well, let me ask you this, was the other person involved in the accident black?" said the officer.

Stunned and not knowing what to make of this line of questioning, I warily answered, "Yes, he was black."

"Oh, well that's good, you can always say that you feared for your life and felt like you had to flee the scene as quickly as possible," said the officer.

I'd never experienced such blatant, institutionalized racism, and thankfully haven't since. But that brief encounter has stuck with me ever since. Needless to say, my respect for Surf City's finest isn't all that fine.

So, there I was yesterday, standing on the corner, getting a stupid jaywalking ticket from a monkey that clearly had spent his adolescent years being stuffed in lockers and thrown in garbage cans. All I wanted to was go to the U.S. Open and have something positive to write at day's end. Instead I'm criminal. I guess all I can say at this point is that besides the Curren/Occy rivalry back in the '80s, the only other thing that anybody ever remembers about the U.S. Open is the riot on the beach and the burning of cop cars in 1986...maybe that's what we need to get back to

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