Kitten Lopez is a fierce and brilliant woman who dances on the street to the radio show I host every Sunday. This past weekend–on Valentine’s Day, of all things–a white man assaulted her on the street. With her permission, I’m posting this copy of the letter she sent to the Mission Local paper, describing the incident (edited for clarity):
I live at 25th/Hampshire [in the San Francisco Mission District] and I used to be an author of books before everything died. I started dancing outside in the sun and usually I do it alone with my earphones on. But girls of all ages would run up to me and ask me to teach ’em and since I was a kid in the bronx when breakdancing hit the scene, I remembered all the dancing in the streets–but there was always dancing wherever there were Puerto Ricans. I decided to dance outside my apartment every sunday 1pm-2pm, and I’d put on KPOO [89.5FM] with Malik Diamond and Khafre Jay’s “Hip Hop for Change” show that’d be great for the kids, too. Sometimes they’d take a while to get courage to dance in the sun. Sometimes you have to watch and fantasize for YEARS before you say fuck it /fuck EVERYONE and just dance in the sun for god. Then you remember. You remember everything. Where you come from, all that.
I told Malik and Khafre at KPOO what I was doing and they’d play all the best dance songs for that one hour on Sunday. We were working together quite by accident.
After a hiatus due to the rains and a heart breaking football season, I started back up this last Sunday after a few neighbors asked when i’d be back out.
I went out at 1pm and put on the radio and turned it up loud.
I was dancing and then Malik was on about colonialism and invaders, and the Mexican guys on the corner are cheering his words and this white boy comes out, crosses the street to me, and gets up close and starts vaguely imitating me in awkward ways. I figure he’s just dancing all awkwardly like a white person but then he starts making fun of Malik talking and shuts the radio off and says, “turn that fucking shit off, BITCH.” And he’s INTO saying the word. His eyes are all excited and i’m creeped out.
He says, “I want this shit OFF!”
And I laugh and say, “Who the fuck are YOU?”
And I look and see his door open in the AirBnB house and I start CRACKING UP and saying “You don’t even LIVE HERE! You’re AirBnB’ing it here!” It was too FUNNY considering what Malik was talking about with “invaders” and shit.
So then I just turn it back on and start dancing again but he PUNCHES me and turns it off and I’m screaming for my neighbors and he’s mocking me like a kid brother imitating me and I’m thinking he’s on drugs.
See, he’s staying in the building where the landlord evicted a first wave tech guy who was middle-aged and out of work Ubering and once he started having problems making the rent, the landlord starting putting the other room on AirBnB. He had a crack user in there once, and I saw the guy screaming out the window.
Anyhow, so now it’s fully AirBnB’d out, although I have no idea if it’s registered and all that. There are a lot of people always rotating in and out of there and I’d never seen this kid before.
He punches me and has NO boundaries and I’m seriously freaked out because he keeps coming up CLOSE to my body and I can’t back away.
The neighbors come out and while the guys are yelling in the street, he keeps messing with me but Claudia, who’s in her fifties, comes out and places herself between him and ME! He’s still reaching for me and I’m trying to tell her to leave but she’s covering for me and it’s beautiful as HELL because no one has anyone’s back anymore.
This kid starts getting in EVERYONE’S faces and even goes into a neighbor’s HOUSE while we’re trying to herd him away. We don’t know whether he’s on drugs because he’s chewing gum wildly and he just acted like he had a right to TOUCH everyone. He didn’t CARE.
Eventually, five cop SUVs come and the kid is imperious and demanding. I later learn his name is “Brian,” and he’s from Manhattan Beach [in southern California].
Cop said, “A rich kid who hasn’t a clue.”
Even though I had all these witnesses, I was gently dissuaded from pressing charges, saying it’d be a lot of court dates and him saying I’d attacked him and I’d had that happen already in Berkeley so I knew it was true. I got my ass kicked by a white guy, HE called the cops, and even though I was bloody, ripped up, and had a broken finger they said if I pressed charges, they’d have to take ME in, too.
Brian told the cop he was there till the end of the month. I figured they had his info in case he did anything again. I’m not into cops but I wanted to do the RIGHT thing.
This cop said I could press charges LATER. It was sunny, I didn’t wanna spend all day in the Mission cop place so I figured if I was injured later, after the adrenaline subsided and if any deep soreness came in, I WOULD reconsider and press charges.
I figured they had his I.D. and info, and I felt safe enough to say I wouldn’t press charges.
When I went back home I fell apart in sobs and was crying all evening, and my hands got jammed and swollen as the night went on. I went to see Claudia, who’d interceded; she was thoroughly freaked out about living NEXT to him for another two weeks with him knowing where we ALL live and he’d kept saying, “YOU’LL BE SORRY!”
We talked about it and I was determined to complete the process and press charges.
But I’d have to call out another cop car and start all over even though I had a CAD#.
I called the cops at 7pm; Brian’s lights were on all night. I’d check. But the cops didn’t come until 1:30am. When they went over to knock on the door, the lights went on upstairs, and then they shut off. Our crazy kid apparently already knew what I didn’t: if he didn’t answer the door, the cops would just have to go away.
Which they did. They said I should’ve pressed charges earlier. I could call again when I know for sure he’s there, but again he doesn’t have to answer the door.
He could look out the window, see cop cars, and he’s fine.
Oh, and they never got his information. Just the name he TOLD the cops. So we’re all terrified he’s going to slash our tires and leave, and we’ll be screwed while the landlord just moves in new tenants every week or so.
i’m actually very afraid of him because when this old white guy yelled at him “What’re you doing hitting women? You don’t hit WOMEN!” Brian instantly defended himself by shooting back, “I’m NOT hitting women!” without a hint of …anything. He meant it.
That’s what was creepy. I WASN’T an actual “woman” to him. A white woman would be. He never DARED to touch Claudia (she’s white).
The cops get called on me EVERY WEEKEND when I dance now, and I get them called on me even when I dance at Dolores Park in the sun, now, too. Even on MISSION street. The new St. Francis people call the cops on me when I dance outside the laundromat in the sun, too.
After hearing the details of the real Alex Nieto story about the dog, the burrito and the two gossiping guys playing it up to the cops for drama, I’m like YEAH THIS SHIT IS REAL.
It’s open season on us ALL now; I’m getting harassed more than when I was a wild kid, by rich people who wanna treat me like the maid. We ALL have those stories now even if we thought we were all bourgied out.
I’m 48 and I have grey hair. This little white kid felt free to fucking turn off my radio and PUNCH me over and over for being uppity enough to have rap or talk of colonialism and invaders on while he’s in his HOTEL room.
The cop lady figured he’d been up doing drugs and was pissed because he was sleeping at 1 in the afternoon in OUR neighborhood.
Now Claudia and another woman who had my back when a couple of homeless tweakers attacked me with their pit last year, they wanna come out and dance EVERY Sunday now. with the kids.
Between you and me, I’m trying to start a weekly block party now.