Then I came back and I was about to go home when an overweight 40-something female officer came by, signalling for Kat to go closer. The girl got up and headed towards her, before the officer asked her to get my drum too.
“Hey! This is mine,” I said.
“You shouldn't leave it like that.
What?! I was in the bathroom and left my chair and drum.
Well, that’s your responsibility, why didn’t you take it with you?
Why should I take my chair and my drum into the toilet if I can leave it here?
Hm, it’s like a knife. If you left your knife with someone who committed a crime, it’s your responsibility.
Uh, are you comparing a drum to a knife, seriously?”
This is when one of the homeless folks by the boardwalk shouted:
“You can’t take his drum.”
“Well, watch me and see if I can,” she said...or something juvenile like that .
She took the girl and went to the car while her partner took the drum and put it on top of the trunk. I stood there on the side watching in disbelief. A minute later, I headed towards her and said:
“Ma'am, may I have a word with you please.
When I finish my investigation.
OK, take all the time you want.” I reassured her.
Five minutes later, we locked eyes and I went towards her again.
“ Look officer,” trying to eye her name.
Look, sergeant, I’m a writer and I reside five minutes away from here. I come to the Drum Circle every weekend and I’m a friend of officer Roberts. I think you’re making a big deal out of nothing. This is a very expensive drum and it’s my private property.
You should learn not to leave it like that. You come pick it up tomorrow from the station. Now stay back please,” she replied.
Then, she stuttered for a little bit while not looking me straight in the eyes and carried on: “Honestly, it’s about you coming here after the drum circle is over.”
Aha. I sensed her slight nervousness. It appears that they were not happy I was mingling with the homeless at this time of the night. It also appears that they had no good reason to arrest me so they flexed their muscles on the young girl.
“Look, I don’t want to write an article about this. But why are being so hard? It’s been a year that I’m here, trying to befriend officers and talking openly with them. That's is not right. This is art, this is music. It is not a crime. The problem you have with drumming is the noise and the neighbours, but this is one drum, so…” I defiantly told her in front of her three subordinates.
During this time, one of the other officer was still checking the IDs of Kat and some black guy, one of the vendors.
A couple of minutes later and more backup was there. A police car came by and it’s none other than officer Roberts and a colleague. We waived to each other as a brief hello before he went down to do his job. We didn’t further communicate just not to complicate things since sergeant “Pepper” was there.
Apparently Kat had a previous warrant and that’s why they took her inside the car.
Another five minutes as I was watching the whole scene, the sergeant opened the trunk of the car, got the drum, and and gave it back to me.
“Ah, thank you,” I said.
I wonder if that was for not wanting me to write “an article” or because I’m a friend of officer Roberts. Or, perhaps, because she thought it over and realized that she cannot do this — that it is unconstitutional.
I then went towards to the police car where Kat was to check up on her. “Be kind to her please,” I told the few officers standing on the perimeter.
“Yeah, now you took your drum, I don’t want to see that drum around here,” the sergeant said.
“ Well, I live here,” I replied with a cold smile.
Then one of the subordinates standing behind, a short skinny officer in his early 20s said:
“Now you took the drum you should be happy she’s not taking it with the girl.”
Sometimes it’s best to shut up. This was one of those moments. My usual reply was going to be something like the following: And do you feel better about yourself now that you’ve told me this sentence?
Ah, the deep-rooted complexes.
I guess the highlight of the story is being told by a sergeant in the LAPD — a mature adult — that a drum is as dangerous as a knife. You really can't make this stuff up.
Some people are in dire need of more love in their lives.
Attempting to Bridge the Gap Between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: Officer Roberts
Attempting to Bridge the Gap Between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: The Coke Prank
A Year at the Venice Beach Drum Circle in Photos
Stop-n-Search That Hippy
Banged Up Abroad — My Few Days @ The Don Jail
How Scary The Power of The People Is