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Attitude against authority
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Someone has an attitude.

The police? Or the people who were taunting police at the Sept. 8 party on Burton Drive?

Perhaps both?

The court of public opinion is now in session about the alleged police brutality case. It was opened at the Oct. 8 Ceres City Council meeting when at least two party revelers complained that police were heavy-handed in dealing with a loud party call.

The case is internally under investigation. It would be nice to wait for the investigation's conclusion before the public weighs in. But since lots of allegations and emotions have already been spilled, let's digress a bit.

Let's review: Adolph Estrada told the council that a birthday party he was attending was peaceful and that everybody in attendance was an aboveboard well-mannered college student or college graduate. (As if being a college student means you're incapable of abusing alcohol.) He assured the council that all who were drinking were at least 21, even though police ascertained that at least one person was 20.

But remember police were called to a disturbing the peace call. Estrada neglected to tell the council that the revelers knew police were at the door and refused to answer it, which is the same as resisting an officer. Someone said to not let the "f-----g cops" come in. Some of these "mature" college girls began flipping off the officer through the window.

Doesn't exactly sound like Breanne Garcia, a criminal justice major herself and in whose the party was held, had much respect for her officers.

Only until officers began citing illegally parked cars did anyone come out of the house.

I wasn't there so I don't know how it all went down. But I'm understanding that this had nothing to do with race and everything to do with an attitude against authority.

Police Chief Art deWerk informed me this week that the aggressive actions of his officers started when one of his officers was shoved. That wasn't initially revealed, said deWerk, because the one releasing the information didn't want to release too much before the investigation was complete. De Werk felt the need to make that fact known this week to the Courier.

I know that some officers have an ego problem or attitude of superiority. I was once personally was treated with contempt by a park ranger. But I was breaking the law (camping in a wilderness area without a permit) and I paid for it. But to this day I felt he was a total jerk in front of my entire family. But I never once thought to push or cajole him. I've also had contact with very gentle, friendly officers, too.

I always tend to give officers a bit of leeway because I know they're up against. This is not Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. They deal with the worst in society. They are the subject of scorn just by putting on a uniform. They are trained to be professional but they can be provoked.They are, after all, human. They are hired to do one thing: preserve and protect but not to be the friends of law-breakers.

Being pushed is an action of aggression. And in mob scenes, force is required to gain the upper hand before mob rule takes over.

Youth have carried a rebellious attitude down through the generations. But it does seem to be getting worse and these attitudes have gotten lots into trouble.

You need not look far today to see this attitude. Remember Andres Raya, the Marine who couldn't handle being a Marine and went AWOL, only to use the tactics of warfare he learned to use to defend his country on officers of the law? He had the ultimate attitude problem as he mowed down Officer Sam Ryno at the legs and then went in for the kill, only to be sidetracked by Sergeant Howard Stevenson and murdered him in cold blood. Remember what he did days prior to this premeditated attack? He ripped up pieces of the American flag and laid them on the floor of the Ceres High gym (which he broke into) to spell out "F--- Bush."

Raya definitely had an attitude toward authority. His attitudes and actions led to his own demise, not his skin color.

Far too many people are putting far too much focus on skin than actions. That's because skin has allowed so many to get away with actions. Let me illustrate.

I have a friend who has been with the Sheriff's Department. He is a white, attends church, has two kids and is a model citizen, often working with youth sports. He told me of an incident in which he caught two high school students red-handed, spray-painting graffiti on the walls of Riverbank High School. The first attempt to deflect attention from their lawless actions was pulling the race card. That's where you accuse your accuser of accusing because of color. You shouldn't try to use it when you're caught red-handed. The boys' parents were called. They, too, pulled the race card, saying to the deputy, "You're only arresting them because they're Mexican." (No, he explained, they were breaking the law.) Instead of punishing their kids, the parents proceeded to challenge authority, saying the whole district - school authorities and all - were racists. The principal happened to be Steve Thiessen, a white man. But the parents' faces dropped with a deer in the headlights look as the deputy explained the superintendent was Jose Galindo, a Latino!

Cries of racism fail to fly when we learn that four of the seven officers being accused of being heavy-handed and racist are of Latino themselves. How can Wanda Byrd of the NAACP say that changes nothing in her accusations that Ceres Police are tough on Latinos?

People, if you get in trouble with the law, own up to your actions. If you shove an officer, or if someone in the crowd you hang out with does or flips off a cop, expect heavy-handedness. The rest of us don't want it any other way. You see, the vast majority of law-abiding citizens don't want you getting away with it!