The Willowvale Hotel, on the corner of Willowvale and Umbilo, is the kind of venue I dread going to. It smells like piss, and chances are, someone’s getting smacked in the face. But this past weekend, things got a little too out of control. A mini-riot broke out. Blood was spilt, and people lost their heads. The police arrived soon after, had a quick look around, realised nobody was leaving without a fight, and jumped back in their van. I couldn’t believe it. Their display was pathetic! A pathetic and embarrassing joke, that left me angry and disgusted. I just feel sorry for the poor kid smoking a joint across town, or peacefully drinking in a public place, that they no doubt took out their frustration at their own inadequacies on.
The Willowvale is the kind of hotel where you rent rooms by the hour and women carry knives in their bras. It’s hard-living. But I’ve seen some great shows there, and had some really good nights on the town. I’ve also seen people pull out knives, quart bottles being broken over heads, and friends getting punched in the face.
It was about 5pm when someone shouted, “How’s that guy bleeding outside!” Everyone rushed to the window, like Japanese tourists at an aquarium, staring out into the street in sheer amazement and disbelief. There was a twenty-something-looking coloured man with blood running down his face, soaking his shirt, streaming down towards the pavement. There was also a smashed quart bottle lying on the ground next to him. People started screaming. Through the walls it sounded like rolling thunder, a deafening stampede.
ADT arrived first, but left soon afterwards. Next, a police van arrived carrying a 40-something, high school teacher-looking Indian cop, and a 30-something, disgruntled boom gate operator-looking black cop. At first, they looked too scared to even get out of their van. And when they did, they nonchalantly strolled over to a coloured guy waving a broken quart bottle around, also wearing a t-shirt covered in blood, like they were about to hand out a parking ticket to a bad-driving senior citizen.
The cops stood around gazing for what felt like forever, watching the real life Jerry Springer unfold, just as amazed as the rest of us. I could just picture them thinking, “I’ve got ten minutes left of my shift, I don’t need this shit.”
“You with the badge, control the situation!” a woman shouted at them. Another woman pulled a knife out of her cleavage and strolled towards the violence with intent. I needed to get something from the car. A kind-looking Indian bar-lady opened the gate and let me out. “Be careful out there, see,” she said. And it felt like I was walking into a warzone. Welcome to Sarjevo. I was shitting it big time.
Once outside, I watched the Indian cop trying to calm the rioters down, like a bad parent would talk to their screaming two year old. The black cop tried to put some handcuffs on one of the blood-stained young coloured guys. But the coloured guy just pushed the cop away and slapped at the handcuffs. Someone else punched a dangerous-looking Indian guy covered in blood in the face. He fell to the floor, face first, arms at his side, out cold. The cop backed down and walked towards the van, like a puppy with its tale between his legs when the master has spoken.
The whole time, the Indian cop kept turning his back on the chaos and looking longingly down the road, perhaps at the Steers just out of site. Why were these guys being so calm and ineffective? I’ve seen cops handcuff 10 teenagers for drinking beer on the wall outside a club, and take them away by force before. And all 10 were co-operative, peaceful, and scared out of their minds.
Soon after the knock out punch, the cops got back in their van and got the hell out of there. Abandoning us, the bar and hotel staff, and everyone else there just trying to sip a Saturday beer and talk crap with some friends. Perhaps, like any bully, the police don’t react well when someone actually stands up to them, and poses a threat. They’d rather just continue picking on the easy prey, the little guys, so that late at night, they can stroke their guns and still feel like Dirty Harry, safe in the knowledge that they kicked some ass that day.
Eventually, the female bar staff, with the help of a golf club-wielding white guy the two useless cops could learn a lesson from, diffused the situation, locked the doors, and sent everyone home. The street was peaceful again. Order had been restored.
Shockingly, for the rest of night, I didn’t see a single police car drive by to check on things. While across town, at The Winston Pub, where people listening to music in their cars and smoking weed have had cops pull guns on them, police vans drive by every hour.
For a company that promises to protect and serve, this weekend, the police really failed to deliver. Watching that police van drive away, while people raged in the street, with knives, bats, and broken bottles, is a memory I wont soon forget. “April 29, 1992”, by Sublime, was playing in my head the whole time.
April 29, 1992
April 26th, 1992,
there was a riot on the streets,tell me where were you?
You were sittin' home watchin' your TV,
while I was paticipatin' in some anarchy.
First spot we hit it was my liquor store.
I finally got all that alcohol I can't afford.
With red lights flashin' time to retire,
and then we turned that liquor store into a structure fire.
Next stop we hit it was the music shop,
it only took one brick to make that window drop.
Finally we got our own p.a.
Where do you think I got this guitar that you're hearing today?
(call fire, respond mobil station.Alamidos in Anaheim,its uhh flamin up good.10-4 Alamidos in Anaheim)
Never doin no time
When we returned to the pad to unload everything,
it dawned on me that I need new home furnishings.
So once again we filled the van until it was full,
since that day my livin' room's been more comfortable.
'Cos everybody in the hood has had it up to here,
it's getting harder and harder and harder each and every year.
Some kids went in a store with their mother,
I saw her when she came out she was gettin some pampers.
They said it was for the black man,
they said it was for the Mexican,
and not for the white man.
But if you look at the streets,
it wasn't about Rodney King,
it's bout this fucked up situation and these fucked up police.
It's about coming up and staying on top, and screamin' 187 on a mother fuckin' cop.
It's not written on the paper it's on the wall.
Smoke from all around,
bo! bo! bo!
(units, units be advised there is an attempt 211 to arrest now at 938 temple,938 temple... 30 subjects with bags.. tryin to get inside the cb's house)
(as long as I'm alive, I'mma live illegal)
Let it burn, wanna let it burn,wanna let it burn, wanna wanna let it burn
(I'm feelin' sad and blue)
Riots on the streets of Miami,oh,
Riots on the streets of Chicago,oh,
on the streets of Long Beach,
mmm, and San Francisco (Boise Idaho),
riots on the streets of Kansas City (Salt Lake, Huntington Beach, CA),
Tuscaloosa Alabama (Arcada Compton Michigan),
Cleveland Ohio, Fountain Valley (Texas, Barstow - Let's do this every year),
Bear Mountain, Vista View (Twice a Year),
Eugene OR, Eureka CA (Let it burn, let it burn),
Hesperia (Oh, ya let it burn, wont'cha wont'cha let it burn),
Santa Barbara,Cuyamca, Nevada, (let it burn)
Lakewood Florida, (let it burn)
fuckin... 29 palms (wontcha let it burn)
Any units assist 334 willow,structure fire, and numerous subjects looting
10-15 to get rid of this looter...