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Letters to the Editor: L.A. cops’ enforcement of jaywalking laws is truly bizarre

Two large digital signs warn drivers they can't turn right into a pedestrian crosswalk in San Diego.
(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

To the editor: Three decades ago, when I was still living in my birth city of New York — where no one gives a second thought to jaywalking — I was visiting Los Angeles and walking downtown. I did something I had always done at home: cross the street on a “don’t walk” sign. (“Trying to cross the street shouldn’t be a crime,” editorial, Sept. 22)

An officer stopped me and asked to see my ID. I asked what for. He said I walked on a “don’t walk” signal and wrote me a ticket. At first I thought this was a joke.

The cop claimed he was from New York too and said the reason I never got stopped at home was because police there didn’t enforce pedestrian laws. He didn’t have a care in the world and seemed so proud to write me up.

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Daryl F. Gates was chief of the Los Angeles Police Department then, and officers were trained to “command and confront, not communicate.”

The fine was only $20, but it made me feel like a criminal. I was insulted, and my attitude about cops in general would never be positive again.

Andrew Gallagher, Costa Mesa

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To the editor: Repealing the law against jaywalking makes sense. But as for pedestrians crossing against a red light, the law is almost never enforced, so repealing the law will not really make any difference.

But is it too much to ask for pedestrians to wait a moment for a light to change to green? Isn’t driving in a crowded city hazardous enough already without having to worry about pedestrians ignoring a red light?

Marc Russell, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Years ago, in a deserted section of the Arts District near downtown Los Angeles, our destination was Gorky’s Cafe and Russian Brewery. This was when the district really was a sparsely populated artists’ neighborhood with large lofts, low rents, decrepit buildings and little landscaping.

Gorky’s was a bellwether in a neighborhood that would see big changes. It didn’t survive.

Late evening, parking was easy and street lighting was poor. Crossing the street we heard, “Hey, you!” We looked and saw no one. We started again and heard, “Do you know you are jaywalking?”

Our defense: There wasn’t any traffic, making it safe to cross. That got us two jaywalking tickets courtesy of the LAPD. The price seemed steep at the time.

So, yes, get rid of those pesky tickets. And while you’re at it, bring back Gorky’s.

Donna Sloan, Los Angeles


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