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Growth of 18th Street Gang

November 22, 1996

Re 18th Street gang series, Nov. 17-19: Your Nov. 18 article showing gangbangers in all their foul-mouthed tattooed glory concludes with an L.A. Unified School District policeman stating, "Now you have to get along with 18th Street." I say no! We do not have to "get along" with murderers, dope pushers, muggers and vandals. What we must do is get angry enough to stop the hand-wringing and get down to the business of exterminating these hopeless vermin.

We seemingly have no problem allocating some $200 billion for advanced fighter jets to police the far corners of the globe. Meanwhile, here at home, gangs of armed punks in baggy pants are systematically terrorizing and killing people while law enforcement "stumbles" and we collectively cringe and kowtow and go out of our way to "show them respect."

Respect? I say bring back Daryl Gates, bring back the battering ram and let the purge of gang-infested neighborhoods begin.

HOWARD BODNER

Tarzana

* Your series details the damage of widespread sociopathy but fails to address the more fundamental issue of its underlying causes. Other than the disorganized police response, few dimensions of our dysfunctional culture are exam- ined--such as single-parent or abusive families, impoverished schools, racism, subcultures of violence--and, perhaps most important, the continued criminalization of psychoactive drug use, which provides the essential economic incentive for these criminal syndicates.

CHARLES VARNI

Santa Maria

* I read with some degree of fascination (which quickly changed to extreme concern) the details of the "18th Street menace." If those involved in proliferating this social carcinoma could read, they would be high-fiving and sharing a celebratory "hit," as they reveled in the civic disruption caused by their total lack of concern for society.

For those who doubt that Los Angeles is in a long-term free-fall toward becoming a Third World "city-state," this series will dispel that doubt.

NORM ZARESKI

Palos Verdes Estates

* As former chairman of the board of the Community Youth Gang Services Project, I was very interested in your series. As a result of the series I am sure that a good portion of Los Angeles is properly "scared" to death. The articles, however, offered no solutions other than increased law enforcement.

At a time when we are sending more and more of our youth to jail do we feel any safer? Law enforcement officials themselves will tell you that they cannot solve gang problems by themselves. So where are the programs needed to recapture the youths who become the new recruits for these gangs? Where are the recreational facilities, the educational programs, the jobs and community projects that are needed to stem the tide of violence and crime? There is no free lunch. We can spend our hard-earned tax dollars on police and crime task forces or we can spend them on education and programs that offer hope and alternatives to a life of crime.

Your articles in the long run probably did a great disservice to the city by suggesting, as did your Nov. 20 editorial, that the solution to the problem is another crackdown by law enforcement. That will happen, but in a year or two The Times will run another article about a new gang that has appeared on the horizon, and it will again suggest the same tired solution. What we really need from The Times are articles that address what we as a community can do to prevent these gangs from forming in the first place.

FERNANDO HERNANDEZ

Professor of Education

Cal State Los Angeles

* I find it interesting that The Times began a series on the 18th Street gang and ran a Steven Soboroff interview [about revitalization and a downtown sports arena] on the same day (Opinion, Nov. 17). Both focus on the same geographic area of our city. It's folly to think suburban families, or just adults, voluntarily will travel downtown surface streets after dark. To revitalize downtown Los Angeles we first must make it safe.

WILLIAM J. SHARP

Northridge

* What greater example of parental influence could there be than your stories of the 18th Street gang and your story on Loretta Sanchez and her family (Nov. 17). I can see members of the 18th Street gang running around, proudly waving the story yelling, "Did you see the press coverage we got?" Perhaps you could do a front-page story on Ignacio and Maria Sanchez and how they raised seven intelligent, law-abiding and productive children in our current society.

KEN CASTONGUAY

Redondo Beach

* The articles made it clear as to why and how this organization exists. It is the fault of Angelenos for not sooner recognizing the potential problems that would arise from a steadily increasing number of illegal immigrants flowing into our city.

We need to support our government in eliminating illegal immigration into our city and state. Secondly, we must recognize the immigrants currently living in our society, teach these people our society's morals, help them educate themselves and assist them in creating careers rather than blindly killing people because there is no place for them in our community.

ROBERT H. KUSSEROW

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