A Latino civic organization is proposing an anti-gang program for preschoolers living in a neighborhood on the border of Norwalk and Artesia.
Members of local Chapter 2009 of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a nationwide Latino organization, say they will take a survey to determine how many children and their parents reside in the area, which for years has been ravaged by fighting between two gangs.
After the survey is completed, the group will ask the two cities and the ABC and Norwalk-La Mirada school districts that serve the area to develop a program for 3- and 4-year-olds to steer them away from joining gangs, said Ray Rodriguez, president of Chapter 2009.
Rodriguez said the program would include both education and recreation activities. Details would be worked out later.
"We need to determine how we can prevent young children from getting involved in gangs. We must attack the situation at the preschool level," Rodriguez said.
ABC school board member Sally Morales Havice said she supports some type of preschool program for the area that would include both parents and their children. Havice said: "Law enforcement and the cities are spending money to protect the citizens, and that's what should be done. But people are saying what are we doing to prevent the cycle of violence."
About 50 LULAC members, city and school officials, including Norwalk Councilman Robert E. White and Havice and Sheriff's Department personnel, met Monday at Norwalk City Hall to discuss methods of dealing with violence between a gang called Barrio Norwalk and the Chivas gang of Artesia. The gangs are separated by 166th Street, which is the dividing line between south Norwalk and north Artesia.
The meeting, scheduled by members of LULAC, was held out of concern after the latest violence that occurred June 22. Jesus E. Diaz, 16, a reputed member of the Chivas gang, was shot and killed while attending a graduation party on the north side of 166th Street in Barrio Norwalk territory. Nine others were injured when three attackers fired a shotgun and handguns into a crowd of about 100.
No one has been arrested. Deputies said there have been no reprisals.
Both cities, which are served by the Sheriff's Department, have increased their law enforcement efforts since the latest shooting.
"The area has been saturated (with deputies) to discourage any retaliation," said Lt. John Radeleff of the Norwalk substation.