Seldom will you see so many of the pathologies affecting inner-city life on such vivid display as was seen today in Los Angeles. Crime, dependency, joblessness, and teen motherhood were all there, broadcast live to an uncomprehending America.
At around 11:00 this morning, four men robbed a Bank of America branch in Santa Clarita, a suburb about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. As they made their getaway in a Volvo SUV, they were spotted by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, and then began one of those televised police pursuits for which Los Angeles has become so well known.
Two suspects jumped from the Volvo in Sylmar, but the chase continued into South Central L.A., where the two remaining robbers began disposing of the swag by throwing it out the car’s windows. This brought pandemonium to the neighborhood, and brought a good many people into the streets trying to scoop up money without being flattened by pursuing sheriff’s cruisers.
When the Volvo got stuck in traffic near the intersection of Vermont and Vernon Avenues, hundreds upon hundreds of people poured into the street and surrounded sheriff’s deputies and LAPD officers, many shouting, “We want the money.”
Beside the novelty of seeing thousands of dollars strewn about the city streets in such a fashion, the typical television viewer must have been struck by the inordinate number of people who seemed to be at home in the middle of the day and with enough idle time to go out and chase the free money being dispensed by the neighborhood bank robbers. One young man who identified himself as Deshawn (spelling is approximate) told a reporter for KTLA that the money was “a stimulus package for the neighborhood.”
On another channel (I regret not having a link to the video), a woman, who appeared to be in her 40s, told a reporter that she was the great-grandmother of one of the robber’s children. Her granddaughter, who looked about 16, then appeared in the shot holding an infant, presumably the now-denied heir to the fortune just distributed to the neighborhood. And for a few minutes this morning, that neighborhood looked to be very stimulated indeed.
(Additional video is here, at the KCBS website.)