Donated police car being turned into lowrider: Project helping to debunk stereotypes

Car to be used in parades, community events

SAN DIEGO - Lowriders and police officers are two groups that some may think do not go well together, but now they are working together to debunk stereotypes.

Turning a donated police car into a new lowrider is the first project of its kind teaming the two groups together.

The Lowrider Community of San Diego regularly turns out pieces of auto art, but this new project is different.

Oscar SanMartin is one of the volunteers working on the project.

"I amaze myself sometimes because you learn something new every time," SanMartin said.

The new lowrider is unique in that it was once an old San Diego police car. Drew Ford donated it to the San Diego Police Historical Association. The car was then donated to the lowrider group.

"It bridges the gap between lowrider and cops," SanMartin said.

The car will eventually be used in various parades and other police and community events.

The donation came from all sides. Everything was donated from thousands of dollars of supplies to the labor. All of it was to improve outreach in southeast San Diego.

"The community sees two sides of us, actually one side," said San Diego police Officer Gerardo Serrano, who helped spearhead the project. "We come there, we give a ticket and we take them to jail… They don't see we do have community involvement."

This project is helping to remove stereotypes not only for lowrider enthusiasts, but for all sides.

"Throughout the history… the negative stigma that we've had are gang bangers, drug dealers, and criminals," said Mayra Nuñez, the community liaison for the Lowrider Community of San Diego."Law enforcement is looked upon in a negative way, as well as lowriders, so we're both sort of in the same boat."

The centerpiece of the newly-designed car is a piece of artwork, which shows a police car and a lowrider side by side. A police officer stands in the middle, carrying young children.

"It's an opportunity to do be able to do something for the community, give back to the community," said artist Michael Johnson, who also donated his talents to the project.

The car's main colors will remain black and white. The newly-designed car and community project will be unveiled in a special ceremony on May 1.

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