I've spent the past two weeks in the hospital with my little miracle. She caught the RSV virus and because of her weak preemie lungs, it took her a really long time to heal. During the time that we spent in the hospital, so much happened in the Tongan community. Both good and bad, both happy and sad. I have a lot of opinions on the matter, and at the same time I don't really know that much....but I wanted to write my thoughts and feelings.....
On Tuesday, April 22nd I woke up in my daughters hospital room and fb was blowing up with comments about this Siale Angilau kid that had been shot and killed in a federal court room by a US Marshal. I didn't know him personally, and I didn't know why or what took place, but I wanted to learn more about it because he's Tongan. As I was researching the news articles and the media coverage....and even many social media sites, I was so saddened to see the negativity that came towards not only Siale, but Tongans in general. I take a lot of pride in my culture and my Tongan heritage and when people bash or put us down, I can't help but get defensive. So many racist comments and remarks came through my news feed, even from some friends and family members who had no idea of the real situation...I was getting so upset. Ova calmed me down a lot. He told me not to get involved because it was only going to make me more upset. We sat in baby K's hospital room talking about Siale and what had happened, so sad that such a young life was taken so tragically. Ova knows Siale's family, and that he was from Glendale.
After the shooting, the media broadcasted how this violent gang member was killed and that because of it the streets are safer now. So many racist comments were flooding the news feeds and social media and to be honest, even though I didn't know Siale personally, I was super offended. There was even a nurse at the UofU Hospital who made a racist comment on his fb profile saying "Tongan Trash....Kill Them All." The nurse was suspended and later he resigned, but before that he was interviewed by the media and he quickly changed his statement to say that he wasn't talking about the entire Tongan race with his comment, he was only talking about the gangsters.....but even in saying that, he is not at all justified. I believe these polynesian "gangsters" aren't bad people, they are good people who have learned throughout their lives because of circumstance or choice, to react in negative and bad ways. But I believe 100% that it can be changed!
Ova and his cousins could fall into that same category and in their younger years, they did some things that they probably shouldn't have. They were from West Valley and they were trying to make a name for themselves. They called themselves the Baby Regulators. I ask him all the time how he got caught up in that and he just responds with, "that's just how it was growing up." He hung out with his cousins and they caused trouble together. Glendale and West Valley didn't get along. Young men from West Valley hated the people from Glendale, and the people from Glendale hated the people from West Valley. There is no real reason as to why, as far as I know, but that hate and anger grew and grew over the years to the point that there was so much violence.
It's been a couple weeks since Siale died and more and more info has come to light.....I have a lot of feelings and opinions about the Siale Angilau incident. First of all, I think the system is jacked up and what happened was completely wrong. He had already pled guilty to the same charge he was being brought to trial for. He should have never been there in the first place. Then to have another member of his own gang be on the witness stand, the one testifying against him....it was just wrong. I agree that he shouldn't have lunged towards him, but I can also see why he did it. People who don't know the situation, wouldn't understand. The guy on the witness stand was the "shot caller" for the little Glendale TCG's. Just last year he ordered Siale's little brother to shoot and kill Sione who was sitting on the curb of a Maverick gas station waiting for his parents to pick him up. Siale's little brother listened, shot and killed Sione. Sione was a Baby Reg. Siale's little brother is in jail now for Sione's murder and it's all because of the witness. Of course, he could have not listened, he could have not shot him...but in that lifestyle, that's what they do. In order to receive their respect and recognition, they listen to their older boys. So can you imagine the hurt, frustration and rage that went through Siale as he walked into a court room, on trial for something that he had already pled guilty to...to see one of his own on the stand, the one who ruined his little brother's life and the one who used to be a loyal friend, turning on him and trying to make his long sentence an even longer one by ratting out everything they did as a gang. I believe the hurt and rage was just too much and that's why he tried to attack him. Maybe the US Marshal was justified in shooting him, but 8 shots was overkill. I still question why he couldn't just use a taser or some other type of force to hold him back.....It was unnecessary for him to shoot so many times and then continue to shoot when he was already on the ground. Can you imagine how his mother felt sitting there watching her son get executed like that? I can't even imagine. And I'm saddened that the courts and the government are saying it is justified. To me, it was not....it was overkill.
Siale, obviously is a TCG from Glendale, a rival to the BR's from West Valley. But his death affected everyone in the Tongan community, even his rivals. Some of the older boys from West Valley got together and decided that there have been too many lives lost, too much damage done…that it was time to make a change. I think they’re just grown up now and they’re married and have their own kids and they realize that they don’t want to see their kids have to go through what they went through. They don’t want their kids growing up hating someone else just because of the city they come from. They don't want their kids to be subjected to the violence that they were. They can see the bigger picture. I think it’s important to note that a lot of the little BR’s were not on the same page at first. Their little brother, Sione, had just been murdered a year ago by Siale’s little brother, and now they were planning on going to his house…the murderers house, and try and make peace. Ova and Papa thought about that before they even got the whole thing moving and they had already talked to Sione’s parents. They felt like this needed to be done, but they did not, in any way, want to disrespect Sione’s parents, especially since he was taken so recently. Sione’s parents both cried when they heard. They supported it and gave them their blessing 100%. They said that they had forgiven Sione’s killer a long time ago, that’s the only way they could heal. This unity, was something they’d been praying for a long time so that no other parents have to face what they did last year. It was what needed to be done, and it was the time it needed to happen.
The BR’s met up at the cemetery of another one of their fallen brothers to gather all their things together to take. It was amazing how many people showed up. Tons of boys came, and that wasn’t even all of them. The younger boys had an opportunity to voice their concerns, but in the end, they still went. They all went together to Glendale, with their hala, and paid respect to Siale’s family. That was a historic day. The move those boys made to put their years of differences aside and squash the nonsense changed the future. They just brought our Tongan people together and broke down the barrier that the neighborhood put up. They are all brothers, they are all tongans. As I was reading my scriptures the other day, I came across this scripture that matches this situation perfectly.
Alma 23: 13 “And these are the names of the cities of the Lamanites which were converted unto the Lord (West Valley City & Glendale); and these are they that laid down the weapons of their rebellion, yea, all their weapons of war; and they were all Lamanites.”
That's exactly what happened that day. They 'laid down their weapons of war' and came together.....because they were converted to the Lord. It's amazing what can happen when things are done with the spirit!
Ova was the one who spoke at the Angilau house when they took their hala. I wish I understood Tongan because he did the whole thing in Tongan, but basically he just told the family that West Valley City is coming to them as the Baby Regulators and they come to pay respects, love and condolences for Siale’s death. He talked about how many lives have been lost because of the hate the two cities had for each other and he sincerely apologized in behalf of all of his boys. He talked about how he wants a brighter future for his kids and he told them the violence and hate would stop. He did tell them that there were many of his boys that still didn’t agree, but that they would come around. He apologized that they didn’t do this any sooner because if it had, many lives would have been saved. He said that he knows that Siale and Sione are in a better place and that the hate that existed between them is gone and they’re probably walking hand in hand now. Like I said, I wish I could understand Tongan so I can know exactly what he said, but this is the basic rundown he gave me. All I know is that whatever he said, and how he said it was so powerful and it affected a lot of people.
I’m proud of Ova, and of all the West Valley boys. Sometimes it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the importance of what happened when the BR’s went to TCG territory like that, because that’s stuff you see or hear about in movies….but this is real life and what they did that day changed the future. I don't have to worry about my boys or my nephews getting caught up in that lifestyle because their Dad's made a decision to take a stand and make a change. They put their posterity first and squashed all the bad blood. That’s what the Poly Movement is all about. Putting years and years of learned differences aside and coming together as a people, a Tongan people.