Josh Bond had just drifted off to sleep when the phone rang. It was the middle of a June afternoon in 2011, and Bond, 28, had been looking forward to taking a half day off from his duties as manager of the Princess Eugenia, a homely three-story apartment building not far from Santa Monica’s Palisades Park.
It was a bright January morning in 1998, early into Ricky Ross’s sentence, and I had driven up the California coast, past Santa Barbara and over the Santa Ynez Mountains, where vineyards and seed fields meet razor wire and gun towers, to the federal prison in Lompoc. Originally a World War II disciplinary barracks, the compound became a maximum-security penitentiary after Alcatraz hit obsolescence; Lompoc was “the New Rock.
The walls of Father Gregory Boyle’s office at Homeboy Industries are encrusted with family photos. Somewhere there’s a snapshot of his 88-year-old mother, Kay, though she’s all but lost among the scores of young men with shaved heads and gang tattoos. The Jesuit priest has welcomed generations of these gang members like prodigal sons into Homeboy, which he launched 25 years ago and has built into the most successful gang rehabilitation and reentry program in the world.
I cannot believe the density in the San Gabriel Valley,” Gary Cliser says as he looks toward the mountains from a country club terrace. “The smog isn’t as bad as it was in the ’50s, though.” The brassy fits and starts of Saturday afternoon band practice drift across the fairway from South Hills High School.
It was a busy night, two days before Christmas, and the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant were packed with shoppers. So Emmanuel* was out later than usual. He had just picked up one last fare from his corner in Bed-Stuy, which was usually a safe zone, but moments later he was pulled over by a Ford Econoline van.
As far as Angel Martinez was concerned, the police officer at the front desk that night wasn't much more than an inconvenience. Sure, he'd refused to take Martinez's complaint. He was even a little rude about it. But for Martinez, after a night in Queens central booking, with his face battered and welts blooming all over his body, that officer was an afterthought.