THE EASTSIDER - As a third generation Californian, I always loved the low rider events, which happen all over Southern California. There used to be a big one on Whittier Blvd, and it was very very cool, a tribute to our car culture.
The cars are immaculate, wonderful colors, can bounce up and down and proof that So Cal was/is the heart of our car culture. The owners probably have more money tied up in their rides than a small house. It’s festive, kids love the experience, and they usually don’t cost a dime.
We’ve been lucky enough to have a few shows in Northeast LA, mostly right here on York Blvd. and I love it. So I was absolutely floored by the May 20th and how it all went to heck, thanks mostly to the Northeast Division of the LAPD, headed by one Captain Waters.
The May 18th Low Rider Car Show
This whole unfortunate matter started with a Low Rider car parade on York Blvd. on May 20th. It prompted Caroline Aguirre to write a damning article called ‘LAPD NE Division Sets Community Policing Back 20 Years’.
It’s well worth the read, and includes some spiffy pictures of a whole bunch of LAPD patrol cars taking up the center lane of York Blvd., making it really lucky that no one needed an ambulance or rescue during the event. The article also has some good pictures of some of the cars.
However, here’s the gist of the article:
“On Thursday May 18th, 2023, local Highland Park residents, business owners and consumers started noticing Los Angeles Red and White no stopping signs posted on York Blvd. The signs stated tow away, no stopping on Saturday only from 11am to midnight.
There were no explanations made for the posted signs. Telephone inquiries were made by Highland Park residents, local business owners and consumers to Los Angeles City Council member Kevin Deleon’s office and the LAPD Northeast Division.
According to residents, CD 14 Deleon's office gave out mixed responses depending on who they were talking with. One, they had no knowledge why the no stopping signs were being posted, or who had posted them, and had no knowledge of any pending event taking place on York Blvd, nor did their office issue any city permits. However, we do know that their office was aware of the event.
Unanswered question: Were the No Stopping signs posted with the intent to derail the Low Rider Car Show Event ?
Telephone calls made to the LAPD Northeast Division were referred to the LA City Department of Transportation or the LA City Department of Street Services. No one at the Northeast Division could give any information on the May 20th car event.”
Highland Park Public Safety Committee Meetings
After that, the Highland Neighborhood Council hosted a Public Safety Committee meeting where two LAPD Senior Lead officers were present to go over the events with the residents. You can find that article here..
Germane to our story, were the following comments:
“Both of the Senior Lead officers stated that they, their Sergeant and their Community Relations Unit were all in attendance at the Low Rider Car show and they positioned themselves on Avenue 53 and York Blvd. They were there to observe those in attendance in front and around the immediate area of the Super A market.
The officers noted that they did not interact with community residents or those individuals who came from outside our community to see the event, or with the owners of the Low Rider Vehicles.
They stated that there were individuals displaying the Mongols gang dress attire, as well as many individuals consuming alcohol in public from open containers. This is a violation of the Los Angeles City Municipal code under the Business and Professional code 41.27 Drinking an Alcoholic Beverage In Public.
All of us were taken back when both officers stated that one was cited for consumption of alcohol in public. No one was arrested at this event. As police officers on active duty, is this not a violation of their responsibilities for failure to issue citations for violations of the city municipal code.”
“Captain Chris Waters did not attend our meeting nor did she send any type of response that she would not attend.
One of our long time very active community members and lifelong Highland Park resident did have a telephone conversation with Captain Waters prior to the business owners meeting on May 24th, Captain Waters concurred that there should be a community Town Hall Meeting and that she would work on setting up a date and time for this special event.”
The Tale of Two Meetings
Ahead of their August 10 meeting, the Highland Park Neighborhood Council reached out to the LAPD to hopefully have the LAPD in attendance and to have a dialog over the Low Rider Show on York Boulevard.
Instead, the LAPD held their own event on the 10th, and adding insult to injury, they held it in Cypress Park, not Highland Park where the Low Rider Show took place.
So our community meeting wound up with between 40-50 attendees sitting in Highland Park at the Library, with a totally inadequate video feed to the LAPD meeting.
As to the LAPD’s event, it was a debacle. You can see a YouTube link here.
Aside from the fact that there were only about 6 or so attendees at their event, they didn’t even talk about the issue of the Low Rider show! No sir, they started off talking about a 2021 shooting which had nothing to do with the Low Rider show, and then talked about “Street Takeovers”. All of which had nothing to do with current issues.
It is no secret that Captain Waters is retiring in the Fall. Her actions in refusing to talk to the community about the LAPD’s treatment of the Low Rider Show on York Blvd. is an intentional repudiation of the Neighborhood Council System, and Highland Park in particular.
I say intentional because the HHPNC had issued a Community Impact Statement on August 3rd, asking for answers to be discussed at the August 10th Town Hall:
- Who in the LAPD approved the ‘No Parking’ signs?
- Who ordered the local police presence at the community event?
- Are the police officers that were present on May 20th assigned to Highland Park or currently serving in other districts?
- How many police officers were present?
- What is the estimated cost of labor for the police presence ordered at Cruise Night?
Gee, I wonder if this request had anything to do with the LAPD running away to Cypress Park where they could control everything and duck responsibility?
Angelenos deserve better.
(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)