Tag Archives: Bank of America

LOS ANGELES: A Bank Robbery in a Quiet Place

Simon Guillen has been on Atlantic Boulevard in East L.A. for 36 years, he tells me.

He’s in real estate, been a notary, a photographer, is a pastor, and a month ago just opened a wedding chapel. He’s a flexible guy “out of necessity,” he says.

I met Guillen, a native of Peru, across the street from the robbery of the Bank of America on Atlantic Boulevard in East L.A. this morning.

“East L.A. is a quiet place,” he says. Years ago, it was known for gangs, but that was years ago, which Guillen remembers well and is not sad to see gone.

The area is one of those benefited enormously by the regional collapse in gang activity in Southern California. I say activity, because there still is gang violence in some areas, though it, too, is far less than even a decade, much less two decades, ago.

But the gang activity of daily hanging out, graffiti, commandeering crash pads from empty houses, dominating street corners or parks — what used to cause such grinding blight and feelings of powerlessness among residents — all that has dropped off to almost nothing.

Go to almost any once-notorious neighborhood and the story is the same.

It’s one of the great tales of Southern California — gang culture was one of the region’s great exports, after all — and you can see it pretty clearly in East L.A. Gangs still exist, but they’ve largely taken it indoors.

All this amounts to massive a tax cut for those neighborhoods (poor and working class) where gangs and their activity were such banes.

No longer do families have to worry about their garages being graffitied, or their property values being whacked because they’re down the street from a market a gang took a liking to.

“You people need to come here and write about this,” Guillen says.


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LOS ANGELES: A Bank Robbery, a Car Salesman and the Eternal Traveler

I was covering the dramatic bank robbery at the BofA in East L.A. this morning. Appears a couple guys kidnapped the manager last night, apparently as she was on her way home, then brought her to the bank this morning with a bomb strapped to her body.

She went in and told employees that she had the device on her and the kidnappers were telling her to take money out, which she did, then put the cash in a bag and threw it out to them, waiting in a car. They made their getaway.

She was unhurt, though shaken, and a Sheriff’s bomb squad disarmed the device.

Stories like this can involve a lot of waiting around, talking with bystanders who might have seen something. One of them was Octavio Medrano, a salesman at a used car lot, who’s been in the area “like all my life,” he says, selling used SUVs and Nissans and the like. He’s from Chihuahua.

He arrived at work too late for the commotion. But as we talked he began telling me about his other line of work.

In his part time, he writes about eternity. Just finished his second book, as it turns out — Viajero Eterno (Eternal Traveler). His card urges people to read the books if they are want to learn”the secrets of the seven doors of knowledge” or “the secret of reincarnation” or “the road to internal peace” or “our relation with the moon and planets,” and more.

All in all, that’s a lot more than I’ expect to learn at any used car lot.

Btw, you can pick up Mr. Medrano’s book at Amazon.com or www.palibrio.com.

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