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Calling Out the National Guard

September 26, 1993

* As Errol Smith stated so eloquently, "Call Out the Guard to Put the Lid on L.A. Crime" (Commentary, Sept. 15), indeed! Los Angeles possesses a level of violence that is unparalleled in any other nation that is presumably "at peace." The numbers of deaths, injuries, etc., and the proliferation of military assault weaponry make clear that this is a full-fledged regional conflict of the sort for which military intervention has traditionally been deemed appropriate; it is far beyond the capacity of law enforcement alone. I do not see a concerted effort on the part of law enforcement to devote all resources toward the real enemies of civilization, the street thugs, carjackers, gang members and criminals, so it's about time we as a society demanded that the military be called into action to restore public safety.

What good is the elaborate hardware of a superpower when a nation cannot secure its own streets? Rather than Somalia, the troops should be here in Los Angeles.

MICHAEL SNIDER

Los Angeles

* Bravo to Smith. We are appalled by the deaths of two white Europeans murdered in Miami--yet more than this die every day on our streets. White upper-class liberals sleep safely in their homes each night and caution us to the dangers of losing our rights. What rights? When people lock themselves in their homes for safety, it's time to open our eyes and realize that the people of South-Central deserve to safely walk their streets each day. Bring out the National Guard now!

LESLIE S. RODRIGUEZ

Los Angeles

* It is readily apparent that Errol Smith has little or no knowledge of the logistics of gang activity or the causes of such behavior when he exhorts Los Angeles residents to demand that the National Guard serve as the answer for escalating crime rates.

From 1988-1990, the Los Angeles Police Department, under former Chief Daryl Gates, expended great amounts of resources in Operation Hammer, which conducted Vietnam-style sorties of police into Central and South-Central L.A. The result: 25,000 persons were arrested but only 1,500 were actually charged with any violation.

Based upon the experiences of Operation Hammer, the logistics of calling out the National Guard would result in a massive deprivation of rights. But, more important, Smith only addresses the symptoms, not the causes, of crime. Laid-off auto workers, aerospace employees and gang members have one thing in common: They are all asking, "Where are the jobs?" To this Smith has no answer.

GUIDO DE RIENZO

Tarzana

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