Monday, November 29, 2021

Column: The Los Angeles Sheriff called me “vendido”, a saleswoman. Let’s talk about the sale

Every Wednesday at lunchtime, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva logs into Facebook Live to bare his soul.

Villanueva allegedly conducts these sessions to inform the public about what is happening with the largest sheriff’s department in the United States. But he devotes most of these chats to the destruction of real and imaginary enemies. Basically anyone who doubts his actions. It all culminates with the Heel of the Week segment, which allows the Los Angeles County chief attorney to unleash a righteous rage on some wicked.

On October 20, I became the heel.

Villanueva picked up my October 16 column that day in which I criticized his recent move to allow MPs to wear cowboy hats at all times as a macho gesture that was purely a hat, not cattle. Within 11 minutes Villanueva read most of my column punctuated by his own commentary.

He called me a “dishonest soul” who created a “false narrative” with an “awakened plan” to attack him. At one point, Villanueva even pulled out a photo of Tiger Woods with a bad tan and a mannequin head in a baseball cap, as if he were summoning the spirit of Karnak the Magnificent.

“You might not like this, Mr. Gustavo Arellano,” the sheriff said, putting aside the props to put on a Stetson wannabe, “but the hats are here to stay, okay?”

I chuckled as I watched the replay and left it in the background when I got to more important work. But Villanueva just couldn’t leave me: about 15 minutes after his initial tirade, he struck the final blow when he referred to a column I had done in a previous life called “Ask the Mexican.”

“I have a name for your new [column] if the Times decides regularly [slot]he said, barely hiding a grin that was about to burst out. “It will be called ‘Ask Vendido’.”

Ask for a sale.

Among Hispanics, call someone sold stings even more than the English translation. This means that the person in question knows how hard it is for Hispanics in American society, claims to be fighting for themselves, vows to defend their community by achieving success, but instead not only forgets their roots, but also actively works to suppress their former comrades. …

I was thinking about the sheriff sold cracked again after my colleagues Alain Chekmedian and Ben Poston read the explosive Times investigation, as well as former Times reporter Julia Barajas.

Their findings led me to ask: Who is the real Vendido?

Reporters found that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has made more than 44,000 bike stops since 2017, which has done little to apprehend the real criminals. Seventy percent of these incidents involved Hispanic cyclists, who were also more frequently searched, although they were less likely to carry contraband than other ethnic groups. Most of these stops occurred in localities such as East and South Los Angeles, rather than in places like Malibu and Agoura Hills.

When I think of people on bicycles, two types of people come to my mind. One is middle class, mostly white warriors on the weekend in spandex, riding bikes that cost more than my 16 year old GMC Yukon. Those who race through the streets headlong like Tour de France cyclists racing down the Champs Elysees. These are the cyclists whom Villanueva’s deputies admit that they mostly leave alone.

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Another group are blue-collar Hispanics who ride at dawn at dawn in their uniforms or with their gear tucked into their backpack. Because they are not doing it “for exercise or fun,” which seems to make this group suspicious.

So the twist is fair play, Mr. Sheriff: Maybe it makes you a sold Supreme.

Villanueva took office in 2018 following incumbent President Jim McDonnell’s overwhelming political upset, courting Chicano Jactivists and Democratic politicians who wanted ICE to leave Los Angeles County prisons for good. Among these supporters was the hope that Villanueva – a half Puerto Rican who speaks colloquial Spanish – would usher in a kinder sheriff’s department with a long and bad history of treating Hispanics.

Let’s just say the Villanueva Sheriff’s Department is not entirely Hispanic friendly.

The move to making cowboy hats was an attempt to capture the glory days of the American West – you know, Show Destiny and conquer half of Mexico, and then take over the lands of those Mexicans that remain. Two years earlier, Villanueva had authorized the reintroduction of the logo at the department station in East Los Angeles, which McDonnell had banned: a boot topped with a sheriff’s helmet and bracketed with the words “Fort Apache” and “Low Profile.”

This nickname refers to John Wayne’s western about a US cavalry outpost in the midst of Native American lands and refers to the 1970 Chicano moratorium – you know, when Chicanos in East Los Angeles protested the Vietnam War only to be brutally beaten in the arms and batons of deputies. The fiasco ended with the MP firing a tear gas projectile into a bar that hit former LA Times columnist Ruben Salazar in the head, killing him instantly.

Last year, Villanueva called Los Angeles County Chief Hilda Solis “malinche” – a sexist Spanish term for a traitor – during one of his Facebook Live sessions.

Over the past year and a half, MPs have shot and killed Hispanics like David Ordaz Jr. and Andres Guardado in high-profile incidents. Villanueva did express “serious concern” about Ordaz’s death, but called the coroner’s investigation into Guardado a “circus trick.”

But Villanueva’s worst offense to Hispanics has to do with his approach to the COVID-19 vaccine.

He oversees the department where more than 50% of the deputies are Hispanics. As you probably already know, Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of them are important workers who serve others in jobs that cannot be done remotely. Maybe some of them, I don’t know, ride their battered BMX and beach cruisers there and hope the law enforcement will just leave them alone.

But understand: about 43% of sheriff’s deputies are fully vaccinated, putting the Hispanics they deal with, good or bad, at risk of contracting the disease.

But instead of openly condemning these MPs for refusing to vaccinate and pandejo – this is a pandemic of pendejos, or idiots, for the uninitiated – Villanueva offers them cover of personal choice and vows to defy Los Angeles County’s requirement to vaccinate all government employees.

Throwing your community under a patrol car in the stands? You don’t need grieve-a-thon on Facebook Live; you don’t need a shiny badge to know which one you are making.

What, Mister Sheriff, this a sold

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