Arrest those dreadlocked rascals!

Cambridge's wayward youths threatened to "get vegan on my ass."

Published December 15, 2000 8:30PM (EST)

Aug. 14, 2000

Robert W. Healy
City Manager
Office of the City Manager
795 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Dear Mr. Healy:

I am saddened to report that a recent visit to your city was scarred by a most unpleasant occurrence. Walking near Harvard Square, I was followed by a gang of overgrown guttersnipes with rings right through their noses and long knotty hair. My younger relations inform me this style is called "dreadlocks." It certainly looks dreadful.

At the root of their discontent was my T-shirt picturing Chinese President Jiang Zemin embracing exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama. The back features the slogan "China & Tibet: Together 4ever." The gang of boys demanded I take it off and became incensed when I refused. Before I could discourse upon freedom of expression and the potential of Buddhist-Communist unity, the young men were upon me.

Strangely enough, I was never kicked or punched, but my mouth was pried open and mob members forced down it what I later discovered to be organic bean sprouts, after which the boys stood up and bombarded me with bricks of extra-firm tofu. During the struggle they made several curious remarks. "Don't f*** with the Dalai Lama!" "Tibetan Buddhists rule!" Before dispersing, the gang leader warned that if I was seen in Cambridge again he would "get some pipe-hittin' lesbians and get vegan on my ass."

My good nature prevents me from condemning a city based on the behavior of a few extremists. I consider it my civic duty to make you aware of what I hope is not a burgeoning problem.

Out of curiosity, perhaps you might clue me in: What is a "pipe-hittin' lesbian"?

Kenneth H. Cleaver

The City of Cambridge Police Department responds:

Aug. 21, 2000

Dear Mr. Cleaver:

Your letter of 8/14/00 to City Manager R. Healy, in which you describe being assaulted on a street here in Cambridge, has been forwarded to me for further action. I am sorry to hear of this unfortunate incident and the Cambridge Police Department would like to know more of the details, such as the location, date and time, and physical description of the assailants.

In order for us to investigate the incident, I ask that you call the Cambridge Police Investigation Section and ask for Sergeant Les Sullivan. With more specific information we will hopefully be able to address the situation that you found yourself in on the day you were attacked and be able to prevent a like occurrence in the future.

Again, I am sorry to hear that your visit to Cambridge was marred by that very disturbing incident. I assure you that such crimes are not commonplace here in Cambridge. I hope we hear from you soon so that we may take whatever steps are possible to investigate this incident further.

Dep. Supt. Thomas O'Connor

By Kenneth H. Cleaver

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