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City Doubles Funding for Gang Intervention

September 18, 2001|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Citing an alarming level of gang violence in Los Angeles, Mayor James K. Hahn announced Monday additional funding that will nearly double the budget for seven gang-intervention programs across the city, from Pacoima to Watts.

The city will provide $1 million to the programs, which now receive $1.28 million to send intervention teams into the streets. The teams broker peace among rival gangs, work with individuals to address their anger and mentor troubled youth.

"We must never lose sight of how important it is to support our youth," Hahn said at a news conference at the Watts Civic Center, where he was joined by Council President Alex Padilla and Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

The mayor cited Los Angeles Police Department figures that show 45% of the homicides this year have been gang-related.

Last week's terrorism on the East Coast, Hahn said, "illustrated the need to learn to talk through our grief, our frustration and our anger."

Programs receiving the money are in Boyle Heights, Venice/Oakwood, Pacoima, Watts and South-Central Los Angeles.

At Communities in Schools, a San Fernando Valley gang-intervention program, Executive Director William "Blinky" Rodriguez said it has "been a heavy frustration and lament of mine for years that we don't have enough resources. So this is excellent."

Rodriguez, who voiced concern about a rise in gang violence in some parts of the Valley, said the additional one-time grants will allow him to send more gang-intervention teams to Valley hot spots.

One such place is the area around Kennedy High School in Granada Hills, where a 16-year-old student was shot to death Thursday. The student was not a gang member, family and friends say, but the man who shot him first asked what gang he belonged to, according to police.

Other agencies receiving funds are Project Heavy West, Toberman Settlement House, Public Health Foundation Inc., Soledad Enrichment Action, Central Recovery Development Project and Unity Two.

Jacqueline Garcia, a Boyle Heights resident, said at the news conference that one of the programs helped her return to school and get job training so that she is no longer active in a gang.

"It has really helped me," she said. "It opens a lot of doors."

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