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Crack Down on Gangs

March 23, 1993

I have lived in the San Fernando Valley for 35 years, and I've never been afraid until now.

I protest the war zone that our communities have become. It is time we stop allowing the criminal element to take over our communities, to regain our rights to a safe environment in which to live and raise our children.

I am not a militant person--just a mother trying to protect my family.

I was driving the other night and, for the first time, I realized I was afraid. I was afraid of the people in the other cars on the road. I find myself easily suspicious, and I've even called the police just for my peace of mind. I knew the police weren't going to do anything, but I needed to feel safe for my kids' sake.

We are all aware that a high percentage of criminal activity in our area is attributable to gang activity. Unfortunately, gangs are made up of children, children who previously would still be playing cops and robbers, not actually participating in real criminal activity.

Do we allow the insanity to continue because the gangs are really just children?

A great number of these "children" are hardened criminals. Hardened criminals with no morals, who do not value human life, who vandalize and do not appreciate the property of others.

They are killing each other. And they are killing us and destroying our communities.

Do experts believe that gang members can be rehabilitated into good citizens? Because they are children, you want to think that it is possible. But is it really? And is it worth the taxpayers' money to even try? You tell me.

So what can we do? Make it illegal to be a member of a gang and to participate in gang activities. Round them up. Get them off the streets. Give them their justifiable due--prison, work camps, community service, but, most of all, education.

Get us more police to defend and protect our communities. Hey, call out the National Guard if necessary. Enforce stricter gun control. Make the parents of gang members liable for damages caused by their children.

Do we purposely allow adult criminals to get away with their crimes? I don't think so. Do we have to wait for gang members to grow up into adult criminals, killing more innocent victims and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of vandalism, before we deal with them?

I truly hope not.

CARLA SEMOLA

Reseda

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