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Community News: Mid-City

KOREATOWN : Asian, Latino Groups Fight Graffiti

March 07, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

The Coalition of Neighborhood Developers has seen the writing on the wall and doesn't like it.

Armed with tan paint, rollers and a heavy-duty spray gun, a graffiti-removal team coordinated by the coalition swept through a 30-block area of Koreatown last week, painting over graffiti.

"Residents, vendors and small businesses need to speak up and take back their communities from gangs, taggers and hopelessness," said Bong Hwan Kim, executive director of the Korean Youth & Community Center, the lead agency in the coalition's Mid-Cities group.

The coalition is a multiethnic alliance of neighborhood groups established in 1990 to work on issues of economic development, housing and neighborhood revitalization.

The anti-graffiti effort was the first joint project for the Mid-Cities group, which also includes the Central American Refugee Center, Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, the Street Vendors Assn., United Latino Families, the Korean American Coalition, the American Thai Institute and Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates.

Residents and merchants who attended a series of community meetings identified graffiti removal as one of their top priorities, said Jorge Perez, a Korean Youth & Community Center organizer.

But fear of retribution has prevented some residents from removing graffiti themselves, Kim said.

So on Feb. 27, about 60 volunteers from the Korean center and other organizations joined Officer Webster Wong of the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division to paint over graffiti between 11th and 15th streets and Harvard Boulevard and Vermont Avenue.

Coalition members will continue to remove graffiti in the area, said executive director Gladys Lewis. Wong said the city's Operation Clean Sweep also provides paint and rollers to residents who want to paint over graffiti.

Coalition of Neighborhood Developers information: (213) 250-1012; Operation Clean Sweep information: (213) 237-1797.

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