Monday, January 01, 2007

The Thugs of Surf City

Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, is a scenic, sleepy, mostly upscale town along the Pacific coast between Newport Beach and Long Beach. Huntington Beach is the town about which many of the Beach Boys' and other surf bands' songs are written. Hundreds of bikers and hot rodders can be spotted kroozin' up and down Pacific Coast Highway through Huntington Beach on any nice weekend afternoon. Thousands of beautiful young bikini-clad woman can be seen tanning, swimming and playing on the miles of perfect beach, along with an equal number of young men doing the same things, and families and elders each enjoying the sun, surf and fine Stalag California summer weather in his/her own way.

There is a dark cloud over Surf City, though, and it hovers over the city civic center. Specifically, it's centered over the out-of-control Huntington Beach Police Department.

As a long-time resident of nearby Santa Ana, and other nearby towns, I was able to observe the radicalization of the HB police as it built up. It seems to have started with those old wild-and-wooly Fourth of July street parties of the 1970's (they may be even older than that, but this is my recollection). Given the moral laxness of the hippie years, there was a lessening of enforcement of civic ordnances, combined with the usual large number of visitors from other towns, abundant liquor and other intoxicants, the tendency was for this partying to get more and more outrageous.

We more cautious individuals who had enough sense to stay away from Huntington Beach heard tales of drunken brawls and vandalism, bonfires in the streets using items stolen from vandalized businesses for fuel, even asssaults and muggings.

The citizens and business owners of Huntington Beach, alarmed by the sheer insanity of the bacchanalia, not to mention the destruction, naturally complained to the city.

The police were ordered to toughen up.

Devoid of any philosophical background, respect for property rights nor even any respect for the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, the unofficial attitude of the HBPD soon became, "Let's go out and kick some ass!"

I'm not sure of the degree of officiality of the clampdown, but it's gotten to the point where the most benign gatherings can be broken up, the most peaceful drinking parties can face arrest for public drinkenness, and it's even illegal to have a beer in one's own front yard while mowing the grass!

More recently, according to an article by Steven Greenhut of the Orange County Register (Commentary, Dec. 17, 2006), police have taken to brutalizing their victims for even the most trivial offenses (both real and suspected). Greenhut cites the police as having tossed a loaded pistol into the trunk of a DUI suspect's car, not in an attempt to enhance the prosecution based on the presence of that weapon, but merely to frighten the hapless suspect as to the degree of his legal trouble.

The officers admitted their folly as the suspect identified the weapon in detail in open court, and attempted to pass it off as some sort of training exercise for the officer. More recently, a contractor for the Register, who operates coin operates sidewalk newspaper racks in parts of the OC, was violently rousted by HB police, not giving him an opportunity to explain that they were his news racks. The man was held at gunpoint, forced to prostrate himself, painfully handcuffed him and angrily yelled at him abusefively. Allegedly, as they say.

Whenever the HB goon squad is called on this sort of behavior, the complaints apparently end up in the round file, officially called "official confidentiality." "Exempt from the public records act."

What the HB thug squad apparently has forgotten, and no one seems to have the stones to (forcefully) remind them, is that they work for us. They're our employees. They have to do what we say.

As author L Neil Smith often admonishes, and I fully second, "no more secrets, no more lies." Any one of us might, under the correct circumstances, be elected to any office in the land. It's to be presumed that, any one of us, in other words, is trustworthy enough to be privy to any and all of the records and acts of our "civil" employees.

In a free society, that's how it must be.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

1 comment:

The Wine Commonsewer said...

Been going to Surf City since 1964. HB cops have always had that rep. But, there was that one night in '68 when they could have busted a lot of people for drugs and underage drinking. Instead, they went through the crowd, badged everyone, and off we went. An aberration to be sure.