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  • On Thursday, July 12th, 2012 an event downtown Los Angeles went mad. I was folding laundry while the crowds poured into my neighborhood for a monthly event called Art Walk, or more affectionately referred to as the LA Mardi Gras. I went downstairs to the local grocer Two Bits to grab my coffee and stood on the sidewalk under an ominous tropical rain, nostrils flaring at the unfamiliar scent of wet concrete in July. According to the National Weather Service this July has been the third wettest since 1886. The city just cries every so often. Perhaps in vain.

    I've lived up above 5th and Spring for over two years now and have watched the political will of this intense intersection shift to and fro between hopeless and hopeful, angry and brave. This particular breed of moody is exactly what propelled the angst and frustration with authorities last Thursday. Art Walk turned violent very quickly. What began as a statement about the legitimacy of using chalk to express political will ended in violence, vandalism, pain from rubber bullets and frustration on the part of bystanders, businesses and residents alike.

    The issues facing Los Angeles' Historic Core are grave. What do we do with the slowly gentrifying neighborhood? How do we solve the dilemma of city's asylum established two blocks away at Skid Row standing in the way of economic progress? How do we deal with events in the past that rape our morale and undermine our faith in humanity?

    Just two months ago, on May 10th, 2012 I happened upon a re-staging of an incident that took place exactly a year before right in the very same spot where the riot broke out on Thursday. A small group congregated on the corner of 5th and Spring as various individuals spoke, a manifesto was chanted, a poem was recited, and everyone laid themselves prostate on the ground drawing a chalk outline of their bodies for a good ten minutes. Same spot where I saw a man take a dump back in 2011. Same spot where a young performer frequently plays sweet accordion tunes in her best Parisian chanteuse. I finally looked through the photos from that day and pieced the trickle chain of cause and effect from back in the day to the end of time. The chalking goes way back. The chalking is bold. The chalking is dangerous. The chalking is a threat to society. The chalking is good. The chalking is innocent. We give chalk to kids, don't we? After ten minutes the dead rose up from the ground in a final gesture of defiance. A cop stood nearby, scribbling away in black and white on his pad.

    The group that gathered on that sunny day in May came out in remembrance of Dale Garrett. Dale was shot by the cops for allegedly pulling out a knife and threatening an undercover agent while attempting to sell drugs on 5th. As blogger Dennis Romero of LA Weekly put it: "It seemed fairly straightforward to us: Undercover cops approach man with drugs. Man with drugs lunges at one with a knife. Man with drugs is shot. Man with drugs is dead."( But at least one witness had a different story, and told the station that Garrett's knife was "still in his holster when he was shot."

    And so the LA Community Action Network has taken it upon themselves to hear the concerns of the locals about the deadly shooting. And so the story continues. And the anger lingers. And the fear grows. And social unrest mounts in a violent outbreak to utter confusion of the greater metropolitan area, the guests of downtown and perhaps the nation at large. What the fuck is going on? Is what everybody wants to know when the mob takes over the street.

    And I just want to open a yarn store. A place filled with yarn. A place where we Gather. A place where we practice patience; with ourselves, and with others. Right on this brilliant street that can shake you to the core, and make you think about the way you live your life. Fifth Street. 90013.
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