Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sweet Home Santa Barbara

Today I went to a Honky Tonk Country Concert featuring Coldwater Canyon. I actually felt like Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama since I was dressed in all black/gray pinstripe business clothes while people were line-dancing and yelling yee-haw (no joke). I wasn't down South though-- just at a Santa Barbara Concert in the Park with Alex's family and a couple hundred well-to-do Santa Barbarans. I laughed when the singer said they would close with the Red Neck Anthem. I knew it would be Sweet Home Alabama, and it was. It was a fun night though, and I'll be back next week for the Oldies band.
Santa Barbarans may not be "red necks," but, as in every other town, there is a fair share of, how shall we say, ignorant thinking. While looking for news about the fire in the local SB newspaper, I came across a story about a man, Damian Nolasco, who held up a group of people to steal a pack of cigarettes.

Someone posted a comment in response to the online article, saying:
Oh yeah we got a handle on the gang problem here for sure. It's all those youth programs the City Council loves to throw our money at to appear to be doing something you know. Or maybe it's that we just call them Latinos now instead of illegals or gang members - that solves the problem. Meanwhile it has escalated to guns now instead of harmless objects like baseball bats and knives . . . Join the Minutemen. Support 287(g)
I love how there is no mention that this person is in a gang, or even was with a group of people himself. Oh minutemen.
On a somewhat related less racist but more constitutionally precarious note . . .

There was a column in the Santa Barbara Independent today about the gang situation. The columnist lambasted the mayor for trying to solve the gang problems by having "basket weaving" programs. She argued that the city should give policy the authority to stop and search any person who "looks like a gangbanger." She also said that if you don't want to be searched you should stop dressing like a gangbanger or move out of town. Um, Fourth Amendment anyone?

What I really want to ask this columnist, however, is what exactly does a gangbanger look like. When I googled "how do gang members dress?" -- the first result I got said "Today, many gangs wear professional sports team jackets, caps and shirts, so identifying them is more difficult. Law enforcement officials depend on criteria other than clothing to identify gang members. " (Dept of Community Justice, Oregon)

I have the feeling that the description that she would give--baggy pants, "wife-beater" tank top, flannel, bandanas, chains, red or blue, etc--could aptly describe the occasional attire of friends I know who upstanding citizens and are not in gangs.

I could just see the police pulling over my friend AK, who during finals shaved his head, had baggy sweatpants, a white undershirt, a flannel hoodie, and an angry look on his face.
Officer: Let me search you, you look like you belong in a gang.
AK: I'm going to my evidence final.

(By the way, the City of Davis has prepared this nifty guide for parents: Is your child in a gang?)
Gang violence is not funny, just some people's responses to dealing with them are.

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