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Southern California Voices / A Forum For Community
Issues | Youth Opinion

'Please Stop the Killings'

May 24, 1997

The third- and fourth-graders of Marie S. Altchech's class at the Stoner Avenue School in Mar Vista wrote letters to express their feelings about the violence in their neighborhood before a gang truce was called.

WENDY ESCAMILLA

4th grader

I feel scared and mad because on April 3 we were going to play softball. But thanks to the gang members, our class couldn't go outside. The gang members ruin it for everybody.

I know that when I grow up, I won't join a gang. When you dress like a gang member but are not really one, people think you are a gangster anyway. That's why a 14-year-old boy was killed last Thursday on his way home from school.

This is not the first time we had to stay in our rooms for protection. We heard shots across the street from our school about a month ago.

MARIA AGUIAR

4th grader

I feel sad about people that are gang members who dress with baggy pants and long shirts and gold chains and rings. They have loud cars and trucks. Sometimes gang members just go and kill you. That is why I am not going to be gang member when I grow up. But people, when they listen to this, they will change their mind about being gangsters. Imagine how it will be riding in a car that's a low rider and wearing big old baggy pants and shirts. Then maybe you also have a gun and will shoot at kids in the streets. That's very ugly. I hope people out there that are reading this learn a lesson about being a gang member. They killed the friend of my sister. His name was Rafael. They shot another friend of my sister. His name is Johnny. I feel sad about them. All that I want you to remember is: Don't be a gangster, OK?

VINCENT MONYIER

4th grader

Please put some information in the newspaper so we can know everything that happens, like when people die or get shot or when somebody is in the hospital. A boy died by my school and another one has to have surgery. Maybe if we knew more about what is going on in our community, we could protect ourselves more by staying home.

CARLOS VALDEZ

3rd grader

On April 3, two kids were walking home from school and got shot. Rafael got shot in the head and Johnny got shot in the arm. Johnny went to the hospital. Rafael died in an alley. He was the only child of his mother. He died because he wore baggy pants and a baggy shirt and his hair was bald. This is the look of a gangster. The ones that shot him thought that he was a gang member. His mom wants to take him back to Mexico.

MARTIN REYES

4th grader

We know about the shooting that was near our school. We heard sounds like if they were hammering in some wood. But, they were shots heard and they killed one kid and another one was put in the hospital. The kid that died was Rafael Adan. He used to go to our school. He was 14.

NELLY GUTIERREZ

3rd grader

El 3 de Abril, hubo una balacera en frente de nuestra escuela y mataron a un nio que se llamaba Rafael. Su amigo esta en el hospital.

Era casi como mi hermano. Cuando se lo dije a mi mama estaba llorando por nuestro amigo. La amiga de mi mam tambien estaba llorando. Yo pienso que el martes va ser el funeral de Rafael. Yo voy a ir con mi mam.

(On April 3, there was a shooting right in front of our school and a kid called Rafael was shot. A friend of Rafael is in the hospital.

Rafael was like a brother to me. When I told my mother what happened, she cried. My mother's friend also cried. I believe Rafael's funeral will be on Tuesday. I'll be there with my mother.)

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