Photo Credit: Joe Budd

Photo Credit: Joe Budd

Nofoa Tauala aka "Junior"

“I’ll never forget that”

They call me Junior. Named after my dad.

Born and raised in San Francisco. Visitacion Valley area. I've been out there for about 28 years. I am an American Samoan. Pacific Islander.

I wanna say it was back in, right around 1990. '90 or '91. It was my Uncle Willy. He'd been in the service. Retired and all that. He was prescribed medicine. So we were doing a family function and he was smoking his medicine, outside smoking a joint, and the cops just happened to pull up. They took my uncle. Arrested him. Making it look like he was a bad guy.

And we're trying to explain to the police officers, "This is his medication. We're telling you he has his medication papers on him,” but those guys, they wouldn't listen. They just cuffed him. Put him in the car and just told us, "Come pick him up down at the station in a couple of hours."

So now the whole family's freaked out. It was like, they took Uncle Willy. Because he was taking his medicine. So, well we go down to the station. They were trying to say he was selling it.

And we were like, "Selling it? What was he selling? This little jar?" Which has his name on it. The prescription and what was in there and all that. It's like, how is he selling it? And he's by himself.

So my uncle. They kept him in. Instead of a couple of hours, they ended up keeping him for a day.

And then my poor uncle has never been arrested before, and he served in the military for 30 years, he fought for our freedom, and he comes home. He's out here taking his medicine and he gets dinged, just for smoking a joint. If you're gonna do that, why are you gonna try to put more charges on him when it's not even true? 

They take him away. Embarrass him in front of his family. Whatever impact that might have had on his work if he was working at the time...

So that was one of the biggest impacts on me when I was younger. I’ll never forget that.