The court date was set for sometime in March 2008, and I was not looking forward to it. The whole part about being on a witness stand is not a good look for a former gang member. I decided to catch the trolley to the courthouse, because parking downtown is scarce and expensive. When I reached the designated floor, I saw my sister-in-law and her mother sitting on the wooden bench, crying their eyes out. I knew when I saw them that it was going to be an emotional day. I was first to hit the stand, and boy, was I nervous. Not about the questions or anything. I was more worried about who was going to be in that courtroom. Was the defendant going to have other gang members in there? What if they thought I was a snitch? My mind was filled with these thoughts because I was worried about my life after leaving the courthouse.
I was surprised to see only a few people were in the room, whom I believed to be the defendant’s parents and a couple friends of his family. The other shooter was not in court because he took a plea bargain. I put my hand on the Bible and said my oath, and 15 minutes later I was finished. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. The only thing that shook me up was looking my old high school classmate in the eye. It wasn’t an intimidation thing; it was the look of desperation that caught me. I don’t know if he expected me to lie and say that I saw him do it, or if he expected me to exonerate him. Regardless of what everyone wanted me to say, I went up there and told the truth. As I was waiting on my sister-in-law and her mother to finish, I heard crying and screaming. When they came out of the courtroom, they both looked exhausted, as if they had been swimming for miles. Their hair was wet, and their eyes were swollen and red. On the trolley ride home no one said a thing; everyone just looked outside the windows as San Diego passed us by. This whole experience was a lot to take in, from the detectives asking questions like I was a suspect, to the constant pop-up visits like I was on parole. I was glad it was over.
Don’t get me wrong. San Diego is a very beautiful city. I love being here. It’s not the gangs and homeless downtown that bother me. It’s not the police who pull people over because of racial profiling. It’s the fact that I saw this totally incorrect commercial that the bureau of tourism ran about San Diego. But many of these tourists don’t know that gang fights happen at our beautiful beaches, stabbings happen in and around the Gaslamp district, and weapons are often found by the metal detectors at the Del Mar fairgrounds. So enjoy your peaceful vacation at any of these spots in San Diego. Just do your homework and figure out things for yourself. Don’t get confused about the hoopla that our city by the water is America’s Finest. It might be, but we do have things that go on here that people don’t know about. Be safe and enjoy my San Diego.
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