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Gang Warfare Lays Siege to Neighborhood

January 06, 1994

I commend The Times for bringing attention to the siege taking place in the Oakwood/Mar Vista Gardens areas in the Dec. 19 article. But I cannot help but compare the coverage of these deaths to the coverage of the Polly Klaas tragedy. I did not get any feeling from the article for the personal tragedy of the Latino and African American families involved.

As Executive Director of Mar Vista Family Center, I experience all too frequently the pain and anguish of families who have lost young and vital children. When I attend a funeral at a local church after a killing, I see parents, teachers and police officers. Where were we all before children got themselves in this kind of trouble? It is as if the dead youth in the casket is shouting out for help from the gross child neglect and abuse. It says to me, look how extreme negative behavior has become in order to get attention in our communities.

Your article covered well the situation but it did not let us know the depth of lack of humanity in dealing with the core of the problem. Poverty and joblessness open the doors to drugs and guns. It is no news that it translates into hard, bitter pre-teens and teen-agers alienated from human values.

We need mass prevention measures but from our hearts we need to reach out to these families in the same proportion as the people of Petaluma reached out to the Klaas family.

BETTY FACTOR

Mar Vista

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