the Air Force. At 17, Gomez had gone joyriding with his girlfriend in a car left with its keys in the ignition. It was a dumb idea made dumber by Gomez’ selection of a car belonging to Sheriff A. B. Nail. Gomez says Nail left him off easy by knocking out some of his teeth with a flash light and “suggesting” he enlist. It was a standard deal for troublesome Frank Perea youths: join the service and avoid a record. Anglos here are quick to ask why Gomez left the Air Force before retirement. “We wondered about that,” vol. unteered County Clerk Catherine Ashley. “Why would he quit with just a few years left to retirement?” Gomez has an explanation: “I was dissatisfied. I got married in 1964, but by 1975 I had spent only seven years with my family. I was up for reassignment again and would be separated for 18 months. It wasn’t doing my marriage any good.” Besides, he was getting interested in politics. Once back in Pecos he decided to run for mayor in last April’s election. But in December he was one of more than twenty people carted off to jail in two pickup trucks after a raid on a chicano bar, the Green Lantern. Gomez admits he smokes marijuana \(“I’m a Lantern was then a hangout for drug users. But he says the single joint which police pulled out of the pocket of his army windbreaker at the station wasn’t his. In fact, he said, the pocket included some cigarette papers that did belong to him but which were a different color from the joint. Gomez was tried and convicted of possession and sentenced to six months’ probation. He considered appealing the conviction, but without a job he didn’t have much money to spend fighting a misdemeanor rap. Despite the drug charge, Gomez lost the mayoral race to incumbent Pigman by only 251 votes. His margin of defeat is an indication of the quiet polarization between the anglo and Mexican-American communities here. Gomez is county chairman of La Raza Unida, but hardly one of its revolutionary theorists. His parting words to me after a glass of wine at the Green Lantern were, “You know, we have a wonderful system, the best system in the world. It’s just a few people in power that mess things up.” Orona is the second of the “militant” trio. He helped Gomez with his mayoral campaign and has worked in voter registration drives. Although he hasn’t officially announced, it is known that he plans to run for county judge. He is a mild-mannered, unco-opted college graduate with a degree in business administration and a taste for stylish Western clothes. His education and relatively protected job as field director for a Department of Labor migrant-manpower program make him a special threat. Third is Frank Perea, a 31-year-old father of five and worker at a Mobil Oil gas-processing plant. Perea is the first Mexican-American member of the county school board, an officer of the Catholic War Veterans and president of the United Mexican American Council formed in 1971 after a chicano was paralyzed by a policeman. “Frank is the leading man here,” said Orona. “The clique has more antagonism toward him than anybody else.” Perea moonlights as an eight-county coordinator for the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project. SVREP has written to city and county officials and to the U.S. Justice Department’s Community Affairs Division expressing concern about reports that Perea could be the next victim of police harassment. As with the other two, Perea’s militancy knows some limits. He was interested in La Raza Unida until he visited the party’s San Antonio office and spotted a “Free Angela Davis” poster on the wall. Perea wants no association with “Communist sympathizers.” The trio may be well to the right of Leonard Bernstein, but to the paranoiacs in the local anglo leadership, they are radicals. Some of these leaders approached the owner of the Pecos Enterprise, down from his home in Washington state to find a new publisher, and got him to order city editor Douglas to quit reporting statements made by Perea and other UMAC leaders, even if made at city council meetings. Douglas was told he was not to “puff” these groups as though . he were their “public relations agent.” As a result, a study conducted by UMAC several weeks ago showing discrimination in city and county hiring went unreported. The raid This is the climate in which the Orona barbecue raid took place. Here is Orona’s description of that night: “When the raid occurred I was with some people in back of the house. I saw officers with shotguns. We could hear them cock the guns. They herded us to the front. “One officer was jumping over the fence and fell. He was mad. He was telling people to get back. Other police were pushing them up front. An officer told me, ‘We need your presence in the house.’ I asked why. He said, ‘Because we’re searching your house.’ I asked for a warrant and they threw it at me. “Officer [Joe] Mollinary was saying, Jimmy Gomez `Where do you have your drugs? Where are you hiding them? Don’t lie to me.’ He was trying to provoke me. “Chief Smith was there. He said, `We’re going to get you, boy.’ I looked at him and kind of smiled. He kept walking up and down. “They were going through all my files. I keep a lot of papers. They were looking at them. One cop walked off with a copy of a chicano newspaper out of Houston. “They ‘found’ a tray with some stems and seeds on it. The chief asked me if it was mine. I said no. He said, ‘Well, we got you.’ They handcuffed me. “Officer Lujan put the handcuffs on me and searched me. He had me raise my arms and went through my pockets and boots. “Then Mollinary kept coming by. Everytime he made a point of brushing up against me. I told him there were no hard feelings. I gave him my hand; but he wouldn’t shake it. “Then he walked byI thought he was going to hit me. He grabbed my shirt pocket, but it was more like he hit me. He said, ‘Hey, what’s this? A cigarette? Is it marijuana?’ “Then he said to the other police, `Look what I found!’ But they didn’t look up. I looked at Lujan because he had searched me before. He had gone through that pocket. But he wouldn’t look up.’ Orona spent the night in jail and was released on $2,000 bond. A trial date has not been set. No one else was arrested. Ironically, Orona has been part of an effort to establish a drug program in Pecos. Pigman and other city fathers have opposed providing city seed money to attract state and federal funds for the program, apparently because they are concerned that an admission of Pecos’ drug problem would discourage outside corporations from bringing new industry [11 February 11, 1977 15
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