Gangs LAPD Police

G-Dog…..the Interview…..and the Cops


NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross turned 20 on Monday.
She and the producers celebrated (predictably) by choosing some of the most memorable moments over the past two decades. Among the material selected were some excerpts from the interview she did with Father Greg Boyle, the Jesuit priest who runs the nation’s largest gang intervention program, Homeboy Industries. Fresh Air has also posted a link to the interview in full. It’s very much worth listening to from beginning to end.

Admittedly, I’m not an impartial observer when it comes to Fr. Greg.
(I wrote a book about the man and he’s a close friend.)

Yet, please don’t let my partiality keep you from listening. I think you’ll find he’s the real deal.

Another thing, while you listen, here’s an little side issue you might find interesting
—particularly now that we’re back to contemplating what may or may not still need fixing in the “culture” of the Los Angeles Police Department:

The deal is, although Greg is friends with LA’s top cops—Bratton, Sheriff Baca and the upper echelons of the LAPD’s command staff—there are scores of street officers who actively hate the priest’s guts.

They scowl when his name is mentioned.
Or if they happen to stop a kid who says he works for Homeboy Industries, they say things like, “Oh, yeah? Well [insert expletive, rhymes with “truck”] Father Boyle! And [do the same expletive deleted to] Homeboy Industries.

I’ve had those same sorts of officers
tell me—and anybody else who’ll listen—that they know that Fr. Greg is stashing piles of guns, and dealing drugs out of his office for profit.


All because he tries to help the guys and young women
whom much of the rest of the city would just as soon write off.

The horror.


  • Either your information is wrong about the reaction of some police to Father Boyle or there is an explanation for the animosity. (Do police really talk that way to citizens?) I’m more interested in understanding the dynamics of Boyle, the community, and the police than just another interview on NPR. _uck! (Rhymes with truck and begins with Y)

  • Listening to Father Greg talk about removing tattoos from gang members, reminded me of the other day when my wife and I were had stopped at 7/11 to get a snack, when a young man walked in with a bold tattoo on his forehead that said “*uck what you think”.
    It made me laugh and made me sad at the same time, thinking about the extra hurdle that this young man faced in life with such a tattoo.

  • Wow, Celeste. I had no idea I was commenting at a celebrity’s blog. Shoo-on, Girl. It appears you rock the house. Your book is on order with my ever-faithful, one-click buddy at Amazon.

    As for Fr. Boyle, there are saints among us. Everywhere we care to look. Takes real stamina to save ’em one soul at a time. That and, I suppose, an almost inhuman level of optimism. Truly an amazing person. There’s just no good way to replicate the idiosyncratic skills of a single individual. More’s the loss for the human race.

    No bullheaded, might makes right, room temperature IQ cop will ever appriciate a Fr. Boyle. Likely there are other officers who support the heck out of him, even if they aren’t ‘public’ in their praise. Or, at least I choose to believe there are so I can sleep at night.

  • Celeste, in looking at your posting categories, I wonder, do you plan a lot of posts on bears?

  • Pokey, very funny—and sad.

    Listener, thanks for the very kind words. Definitely there are lots of terrific cops out there who realize they and Fr. Greg are all working toward the same end—one from the intervention end, the other from the suppression end, both essential parts of the equation. I just continue to be surprised at the number who say incredibly hostile and peculiar things. They’re in the minority, but the ordinary officers on the street are affected by it.

    But, as I said, this is in no way a top-down attitude. He’s very good friends with the Sheriff and several of the Assistant and Deputy Chiefs. Bratton praises him in public regularly. Yet, the fact that, after all these years, there’s still the on-the-street animosity means, I think, that there are too many cops out there who, for a variety of reasons, mentally criminalize the poor communities they police. And that perspective makes for problematic enforcement.

    Woody #1: You don’t like NPR and I don’t like Fox. But, I promise you, you’d enjoy the interview. Forget the venue and give yourself a treat. Greg’s a first rate storyteller and has a slightly wicked sense of humor—your kind ‘o guy. (Yes, yes, I’m the ringer in the audience, but it also happens to be true.)

    Woody #2: one can never post too much about bears. (Actually, I think I put the category up when I did the one post about the grizz being potentially de-listed. Then as I was deciding what category the post oughta be in—environment would seem to be the obvious one. But then I thought, NAH! Bears!)

    Somebody has to counteract the ongoing and scurrilous attacks on the good character of bears done by Stephen Colbert. (Woody, I think I’m fairly safe in figuring you don’t watch that show, but just take my word for it, Colbert’s anti-bear stance is….formidable. [And pretty funny.])

  • Oh, sure. The guy’s name is pronounced kol-Bear. I think that he’s trying to make up for his own embarrassment and insecurities over that.

    Anyone need Braves-Mets tickets tonight or tomorrow that I can’t use? I’m going Thursday when Smoltz and Glavine go against each other again. I have free parking the rest of the season because a lot attendant towed my car in error a couple of weeks ago. And, I get the first spot so that I can get out quickly.

    Okay, I’ll go listen to Father Greg, but he better be as good as Jeff Foxworthy. Does he provide drugs to baseball players, too? Has Barry Bonds ever met with him?

  • No, that’s how Colbert pronounces his name.

    We should all be so insecure and embarrased as he is!

  • Father Boyle could start a new routine. I don’t really know what makes a “homeboy,” but this could be a start.

    If you have a tattoo on your forehead…you might be a homeboy.

    If you have spray painted your name on the side of a building…you might be a homeboy.

    If your pants ride half-way down your rear and you’re not a plumber…you just might be a homeboy.

    If your car bounces without pot holes…you might be homeboy.

    If you’ve ever claimed that drug evidence was planted on you…then you could be a homeboy.

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