Friday, September 26, 2008

History of Violence

UPDATE: Since there are people who will be directed here from The Big Lead, I feel like I should say this (and I can't get his site to allow me to login and comment)--my account of the evening was not excessive. The actions of security were excessive. I can only call it like I see it, and it obviously does me no good to negatively report on the goings on at a place I love. I feel like I may have even downplayed the severity of the situation. I was literally shaking after it happened. Also, in case it's not clear, I in no way think it was appropriate for the woman to do anything other than go back to her seat once she fell. But that still does not condone the behavior of the guards in question.

Oh, and I'm waiting for a response from the Dodgers. The appropriate people have been notified of the incident.

There are rules when it comes to attending a baseball game. I get that. It's a contract when you purchase that ticket; read the fine print if you don't believe me. We pay money, and we agree that it's okay if flying projectiles come right at our heads (even if some of those flying projectiles could be removed by banning maple bats, but I digress), as long as we get to see a game. We agree that running onto the field will surely get us arrested, because the field is for the players, not the fans. Fine. Understood.

I get that baseball teams have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to this issue. No excuses about coming onto the field. Do it, and you'll be escorted off, thrown in Dodger Jail (yes, that exists), and then possibly taken to real jail. Great. The players don't need to be accosted while doing their jobs, so that's a fair rule. You see how I'm not opposed to rules? That's important to remember here.

Let's go to Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. I had seats in the front row, right next to (or, more accurately, directly behind) the left field foul pole. In the top of the fifth inning (I'm pretty sure, though I guess it could have been the fourth; things turned into a blur after the incident), Manny threw a ball into the stands about five or six seats to my right. Some people went crazy trying to get it, and a woman fell over the wall onto the field. She stayed on the ground for a few seconds, then I guess decided that, since she was on the field, she might as well go for the ball, which had rolled toward the Dodgers' bullpen.

This is where things went terribly wrong. This woman was not running toward the playing field. She had a glove in her hand, had clearly fallen over the wall accidentally, and was obviously going for the ball that was running along the wall. A security guard finally saw the woman when she started to run. Don't ask me how he missed her while she was on the ground after falling; seems like all of this could have been avoided if he had just come over right when she fell. This leads me to believe perhaps he didn't want to avoid the situation, and chose to let it develop. Of course, I can't prove that.

I looked away from the woman just in time to see the security guard (whom we had taken to calling "Tex" in previous games, but now he'll need a new, less positive, nickname) take off in a sprint directly at her. I figured he would just grab her and stop her, but this guy, apparently deeming the woman a huge threat to national security, tackled her by the neck, pinning her against the wall. Right now, I can still see this woman's head as the guard forced it against the wall. I looked away because I was seriously afraid I was about to watch her neck snap. I didn't want to see someone die at Dodger Stadium. My fiance kept watching and said that then, with his arms still around the woman's neck, the guard threw her to the ground. By the neck. I looked back and saw that, at this point, three of his coworkers had come over to help, and they decided that they needed three of them to hold this woman down and cuff her, then drag her off the field.

Here are the pictures I was able to snap:

I was shocked. I know the woman should not have been on the field, but was that level of aggression really called for? I just don't see why it was needed. I could not believe this had just happened directly in front of me, at one of my favorite places in the world, no less. The completely unnecessary violence of the act just floored me, and I really didn't know what to do or say or think. For at least an inning, I couldn't even pay attention to the game (I totally missed the Padres' third run, for instance). I was shaking. I was angry and I was upset, and of course there was virtually nothing I could do about it.

But now I can write. And I can make sure the story is out there. And I can ask the Dodgers if they actually condone (or encourage) this kind of behavior from their security staff. Remember how I said I'm okay with rules? That's true. But are the guards not asked to exercise a little bit of common sense? Or are they just trained mercenaries who see a person running on or near the field, and immediately switch into "attack" mode? I'm not even getting into the fact that the guard, a male, did this to a woman. That's not the issue here, though I do think it makes the incident all the more unbearable to comprehend. But I would be feeling the same way if this had happened to a man.

This was a guard on a power trip, a man who had been told to do take charge of a situation with apparently no regard for the actual details. It's easy to believe that an eight-year old kid could have been on the field chasing the ball, and the guard would have tackled him with the same force. This was violent. This was unnecessary. And it was just plain mean. It's hard not to think that this incident is just an extension of the mentality of this nation: act first, ask questions later. Diplomacy? What's that? Just put a boot in their asses. It's the American way. But that's probably an essay topic for another day.

I don't want to believe that the Dodgers would accept this behavior from an employee. I can't believe that, or I lose all faith in the team I love. I was ready to leave last night in the fifth inning of the last home game of the regular season, all because something awful and egregious had occurred right in front of me. Normally I consider leaving a game early because of a terrible pitching performance or poor defense on the part of the Dodgers. But this time it was due to a man exercising his power in a deplorable way.

I have been to sixteen games at Dodger Stadium this year. I have spent god knows how much money on this team, what with the price of tickets, concessions, and the occasional souvenir. It's hard to believe that part of my money goes toward the paycheck of the man who committed this crime (and that's what it was, and I'd testify in court on behalf of this woman if she decides to sue, which she should). Frank McCourt has absolutely profited because of my loyalty.

So here's the deal, Dodgers: I'm not going to games next year if this man is still employed by the stadium. It will kill me, and I will suffer, but I'm a woman of principle, and I hate violence. I especially hate it when it comes from people who are in a position of power and choose to abuse that power. That's what this man did, and I won't stand for it. I was planning on buying a season ticket package for next season. That won't happen now, unless I hear something about this man being fired for his actions (disciplinary action or some crap like that is not enough--this was not the first time this guard has acted this way; I'm sure of that).

Josh Rawitch (VP, Communications) will be getting an email about this, because he's my only contact at the Dodgers. But I'm also going to branch out for this one. According to the Dodgers' web page, Lon Rosenberg is VP of Stadium Operations, and Shahram Ariane is Director of Security and Guest Services. They'll be getting emails, too. And the guard's picture will be posted on this site until the appropriate actions are taken. Think I'm overreacting? Find anyone else who was anywhere near field section 49 at Dodger Stadium last night. The reaction from the crowd was uniform. People were calling it unnecessary, and when the guard came back out, he was booed mercilessly. I was not the only one feeling this way, for sure.

I guess if I'm not going to games, I won't be writing about the team either. So maybe this will just go back to being a Red Sox blog. It'll be hard, but I have to stand for something, right?


Anonymous said...

wow thats some kind of bullshit.
Hope she sues.

QuadSevens said...

That's a crazy story and I really hope nothing like that ever happens again.

One thing to note, is that the security gaurd may not actually be paid be the Dodgers. A friend of mine works for the LAPD and he told me that all of those guys in the white polos are either ex cops, or cops on an off day. That would definitely explain why they jump on any fan who gets onto the field the way they do. It's not right, but it's the way they have been trained by the LAPD. I hope you get some real responses from your emails and not just the typical "thanks for your opinion and we'll look into this."

Erin said...

Yeah, I always assumed they were either ex-cops or off-duty cops. But since they're not in uniform, I have to assume the Dodgers bear some responsibility for the payment. At the very least, if the people are on the field essentially representing the team, the Dodgers bear responsibility for the behavior.

I hope it never happens again, too. I certainly hope it never happens so close to me again. I think I'll get a decent response. Josh Rawitch is pretty good at keeping the lines of communication open with bloggers. But we'll see.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, I dont see a problem with this. The players need to feel like they are safe.

I hope you are not serious about boycotting the games.

Just don't run on the field and it wont happen to you.

Erin said...

If you see no problem with this, then you have as much common sense as that guard.

I already said I know the players need to feel safe. This woman was not threatening the players in any way, and that was perfectly clear to everyone. It was obviously clear to the guard, since the first thing he did was take the baseball out of her hand. So, he saw her grab it, knew what she had been going for, and still was unnecessarily violent. He brought the maximum amount of force to a situation that called for very little, if any at all.

And I'm definitely serious about boycotting games. I never claimed that I was worried about this happening to me--it wouldn't. But I tend to care about my fellow citizens as well, and when the guards who are (maybe) paid by the Dodgers are not the least bit concerned about their actions, I have problem. That's regardless of whether or not it directly affects me. And so I write a blog, and I boycott.

Cobra said...

My RSS reader picked this up earlier today and I'm finally home and able to comment on it. First, congrats on the engagement. I'm not sure if you said you were engaged in past posts, but I don't think you did. Congrats.

Second, I can see your point that the guard was overzealous in his actions but I think a 'normal' fan would have, like you said, climbed back over the wall and back to their seat. I think when she didn't do that, it heightened the situation. Actually, I'm surprised they don't boot people for just going over the wall because I've seen that happen before, but I digress. As soon as she makes her way down the right field line it's no holds barred as far as what happens to her. As a Dodgers fan I think you know all about the Rick Monday incident along with problems the Dodgers have had with fans at Wrigley Field in the past....very bad things can happen if the fans reach the players.

Let me ask you this, if she had made it to the bullpen and Broxton had clotheslined her, would you be asking for him to be suspended or let go?

Or, if they had let her just long before the next person hops the fence and how long after that until something bad happens? Then the question would be...Why weren't the Dodgers watching this more closely.

Still, since you make valid points, it would be nice if a better decision had been made by the guard.

As far as the handling of the woman by the guard....I'm not a police officer, and I'm guessing that's what he is, so I don't know if that's how they are trained or what the deal is. I plead ignorance on that issue.

seabeachfred said...

One Mexican at Dodger Stadium down, 40,000 more to go.

Bruce Paine said...

I am going to offer a phrase here that the properly educated people of this country should know and comprehend: judicial discretion. Look at this fucking deal right here and tell me if this fucking asshole's reaction to the situation was in any way reasonable, appropriate, or necessary. I have been harping it on your blogs for a while and my own occasionally, but this society is going batshit, Tom Riddle crazy and it is time for reasonable people to get gunned up. You cannot trust people to act sanely, especially the cops. In St Paul they just arrested 800 people at the RNC. Many were apprehended and charged with having "defensive equipment" or what the rest of us would call bandannas or handkerchiefs. Yeah. I know this, if I saw a dude (and I don't care if he was a cop in uniform or Omar Shareef) handling my woman that way I would skin my .45, shoot that bastard and hang him on a post next to the garden to scare the other fascists away. In a real world where people lived like human fucking beings that guard would have been running over to see if she was okay, helped her get the ball, and escorted her to the nearest stair well so she could return to her seat. I just love the guys who want to be cops/security guards because they believe there is some sort of institutional authority they crave in the position that their character or the weight of their own personality has never been able to acquire for them.

Oh, Congratulations, too. Tell the bartenders at your wedding to throw a pinch of cinnamon on top of the white russians. Thats how Bruce Paine drinks them and its a helluva way to spice up an otherwise innocuous libation.

Erin said...

Like Paine said, discretion was needed here. Cobra, I definitely don't think they should have let her go, but It didn't take clotheslining this woman to get her to stop, and that was easy to see. She had already stopped by the time the guard got to her, because she had the ball in her hand. Regardless, grabbing a woman (or anyone) by the neck and throwing them down is uncalled for in pretty much any situation in which the victim is unarmed.

I would delete seabeachfred's comment, but I actually considered writing about the race issue in the original post. I had wondered if I, a white woman, had done the same thing, would I have been treated in the same manner? Hard to say, but if the guard holds seabeachfred's views, there's no telling what was going through his head.

Race probably wasn't an issue, but the guard certainly didn't act as though he viewed this woman as another human being. In Los Angeles, they run ads at bus stops, asking people to join LAPD. The slogan is "Become Twice the Citizen." Every time I see that, I feel like throwing up. Do we really need to see it in writing that cops think they're above the law? Do LAPD officers now get to vote twice in any elections? That's likely the mindset this guard was working from, and it's just not cool.

I don't generally have a problem with authority, but any time I see it abused, I have to call it. And that's what I did here.

Anonymous said...

stop crying

berkowit28 said...

You say "disciplinary action or some crap like that is not enough--this was not the first time this guard has acted this way; I'm sure of that".

Did anyone you spoke to say they'd seen him do this before? What if it is the first time he has acted this way *at Dodger Stadium* as opposed to as a cop? Would you be satisfied by some sort of disciplinary action and warning then? Maybe DS security management has not been sufficiently clear on which actions are acceptable under which circumstances. Leaving it up to the discretion of "heavies" such as this character is not very safe, yet they do have to make judgments on the spur of the moment as situations develop. I wonder what the limits are. Perhaps your emails to Dodger management and publication here and at SoSG will do some good in getting them to tighten up procedures.

Anonymous said...

You don't run on the field when you have a caboose the size of CC Sabathia's. It's as simple as that. Hats off to stadium security for removing this eyesore.

Bruce Paine said...

"authority"!? I am afraid that there are a lot of different kinds and it most importantly in the relationship of the governed to the government, a lot of different ways to espouse it. This guy was given "authority" through terms of some sort of employment, but he clearly thought himself entitled to to some sort of behavior by that authority that was unacceptable. "Authority" is power, and the means and process by which you come to it strongly effect the distribution of it. This guy probably had "authority" to behave the way he did, and therefor you must question the nature of any authority and how it is given. I would suggest challenging authority in every sector, and forcing it to legitimize itself. If it is able to establish its moral authority then so be it, but I think we can clearly see that this is not the case. Question all authority and the best of it will rise to the top, it will legitimize itself. If you wait until somebody has you in an arm-bar and is smashing your face against a wall before you question it, then you are already in the cage. If we ask for the shepherd, we will surely get him.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I bet the people that were on the united flights felt safe until their plane was crashed in the Trade center. You can never assume people are not going to do something because you wouldn't do it.
If she would have TRIED to go back to her seat, then I doubt if she would've been tackled.
And I'll be glad if you boycott the dodgers
1. Because baseball stinks
2. Don't need any more hysterical people at the ballpark
And I would gladly give "Tex" a job, because he looks mean and even-though he is ancient he can still throw a woman to the ground. Send him to the cage

The Dude Abides said...

Anonymous@7:35PM, I suppose it was inevitable on this blog that a Rush Limbaugh worshiper such as yourself would equate a woman running to pick up a baseball with 9/11, and sure enough, it happened. I think you should join Rush, "Tex," and former congressman Mark Foley on their next underage boy-hunting trip to the Dominican Republic. Make sure you bring your Vitamin V!

Anonymous said...

Dodger Stadium has alot of other issues to take umbrage with, like why do I have to stand in line for 25 minutes to get a hot dog and a beer. Or why is the parking lot lined with attendants instructing me with orange flags to "Go Straight" or "Go Left" when my only real options are to go straight or left.
I'm sure you are a normally intelligent person but your emotional connection to this event will not allow you to act reasonablly. Now, it's cute that you saw this swamp donkey trying to catch the ball that Manny threw and what not and the ensuing pandamonium when said swamp donkey, I suppose, dropped said ball. Here is the key. YOU are watching this whole thing. YOU know why she fell. YOU know why she is now charging down the baseline. YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT THIS LADY IS AN IDIOT.
All that security guard sees is someone stumble over the wall and then attempt to run onto the field. He dosen't know what her intent is. All he knows is that he gets paid by Mr. McCourt to protect his players and protect his stadium.
People fall over the wall all the time attempting to catch balls down the line and IF they do fall over they hop back over the walll and no one puts them in a headlock.
This degenerate falls over the wall, which had to be a little funny, then runs after the ball and gets RUINED by a security guard, which is HILARIOUS on many levels but mainly because she is about to be in a world of shit all for chasing a $10 baseball.
This chick got off easy. You should find greater causes to support than people too stupid to use common sense. I'd like to hear the update cause I'm sure the Dodgers just gave that security guard a promotion for his fine work...

Falling LEAVes said...

I was at the game but didn't really notice what was going on ... since I was much higher and didn't get a good view. The security guard you're talking about actually is a SWAT guy. I think. I don't remember exactly what, but my friend brought a friend to the game once who's a cop. He pointed out the security guard in question and said he knew him.

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