My first memory of attending a political protest was with my father, after a woman named Eulia Love was murdered by two Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers in 1979 in South Central Los Angeles. Love was gunned down after allegedly threatening the officers with a butcher knife. The killing elicited a firestorm in the African American community, which was still reeling from the 1965 Watts Rebellion. What stood out for me as a child was the fact that this was a black woman victim, a mother, killed in cold blood at her own house. Home was supposed to be a safe space and a private sanctuary. It was what every proper, moral girl aspired to keep. In the white popular imagination, home was the maternal blur of Ozzie and Harriet reruns, the dayglow of the über-blond Brady Bunch, the toasty smell of Donna Reed’s oven. Home was supposed to be immune to outside forces; a preserve guarded by those that were sworn to protect and serve, like the strapping officers from L.A.’s finest who pumped several rounds into Love’s body as she lay on the ground.
Love was killed on the watch of infamous LAPD Chief Darryl Gates, the Bull Connor of the Wild West. Gates used battering rams to ransack poor neighborhoods and once stated that blacks didn’t respond to chokeholds like “normal people.” Normal people meant white people, the gold standard for human biology, culture, and civilization. Guilty until proven innocent, black people weren’t normal because they didn’t have homes, families, or children worth protecting.