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VENICE : At Violent Corner, Galanter Talks of Peace


Seven years after being nearly knifed to death, Councilwoman Ruth Galanter visited one of her district's most violent corners Saturday to make a Mother's Day appeal for peace.

Flanked by four women who have lost sons to violence, Galanter cited her own attack during remarks before about 50 people gathered at a basketball court in the Oakwood section of Venice, a neighborhood rocked by a deadly gang war for almost a year. The violence has claimed about 15 lives in and around Venice since last summer.

"We know you've been having a very difficult time. Oakwood has been having a very difficult time," Galanter said. "Enough is enough."

Galanter recalled how her mother traveled from New York to stay with her for five months after the May 6, 1987, attack during a burglary in Galanter's Venice home. The attacker, a neighbor, was convicted later that year and sentenced to 14 years and four months in prison.

"Many mothers have lost children in recent months. . . . They are not having a happy Mother's Day," Galanter said. "Our prayers are with you."

Some in the audience clutched flowers, while others held anti-violence bumper stickers. Rosie Lodge, whose grandson was shot dead by suspected gang members in Oakwood last fall in what was believed to be a case of mistaken identity, said the slaying had changed her family. They "were sad. Then they got angry. Now they are afraid," she said.

On the sidewalk nearby, a handful of people carried placards protesting the alleged police beating of a resident the night before.

The Rev. Shearwood Fleming, an assistant minister at the Body of Christ church and a well-known Oakwood resident, said police struck him and sprayed him in the face with pepper spray after ordering him out of the street, where he'd been talking to friends. Fleming said he was sprayed in the face after he moved to the sidewalk but refused police instructions to put his hands behind his head, saying he had done nothing wrong.

"It was good night, everybody. I couldn't see anything," Fleming said. He said he was punched and wrestled to the ground, then sprayed again. "It was uncalled-for," he said.

Fleming was booked on suspicion of battery and released on bond. Police said Vincent Maddox, 39, also was arrested for interfering with an arrest. A police spokesman said he had no information on the alleged beating, but said Fleming should file a complaint if he believes officers acted inappropriately.

Fleming said Tuesday he had not filed a complaint.

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