RFFocus had the opportunity to interview the very charismatic and insightful Lolita Files. Her book Once Upon A Time in Compton spans over twenty years where “gang unit detectives Tim Brennan and Robert Ladd patrolled the streets of Compton. They witnessed the birth and rise of gangsta rap with acts they knew personally, such as N.W.A and D.J. Quik”. So many words can be used to describe Ms. Files, however, we’ll let the interview speak for itself below. Be sure to check out her website at www.LolitaFiles.com and pick up her book Once Upon A Time in Compton available now here!
What is the book Once Upon a Time in Compton about?
It covers the 20 years that former Compton Gang Unit Detective Tim Brennan and Robert Ladd were on the Compton Police Department and then served again as Gang Unit Detectives. For a while, it was just the two of them, these two white guys, in a predominately Black and Brown city and Compton is a small city it’s only 10.2 square miles (there were 55 gangs). You have these two white cops in their African American box and they are policing it and on its face that sounds like the typical ‘White Savior’ story but when I dug deeper and really got to know them and the people of the community they were very respected and very good at what they did. During those 20 years, they were front and center in those moments in Pop Culture. They knew NWA when they were selling tapes out of their trunk at the Compton Flea Market. DJ Quik did an underground song about Tim Brennan, they were front and center on the LA Riots and on the LA Riots Task Force, they were also the cops who investigated the Tupac murder case. Tim Brennan was also on the Biggie Task force. Looking at the arc of everything it was so fascinating and that’s what pulled me in.
So they had a good rapport with people within the neighborhood that they were serving. Dealing with the current climate of everything. How do we restore that rapport?
Their relationship with the people of Compton and the community was so remarkably contrasted to what we’ve been seeing over the past few years regarding how African Americans and People of Color are treated by police. They actually knew the people that they were serving. So much of what we hear now is how people are “policing” their communities. Policing what? You’re supposed to be there to try and fight crime to keep those things to a minimum and to provide a sense of security to people who live in those communities and not to terrify them and that’s what we are seeing now. Now it’s more of a shoot first and never ask any question kind of mindset. That’s scary for me as a black person and for all of us. Something definitely needs to change. Cops first and foremost should know the people they are serving. If you don’t know them they mean nothing to you and it’s so easy to kill them.