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Coalition Rallies for an End to Violence

November 24, 2002|Cara Mia DiMassa | Times Staff Writer

The trees outside Darby Park in Inglewood were ringed with ribbons: black for loss, white for hope and yellow for goodwill. In the park, parents of children killed by gunfire joined civic leaders and members of the community to plead for peace.

Members of the Inglewood Peace and Fairness Coalition organized the mid-Saturday rally -- which began with speeches and ended with prayer -- in anticipation of the upcoming trial of former Inglewood officer Jeremy J. Morse, accused of beating 16-year-old Donovan Jackson.

Khalid Shah, executive director of the Stop the Violence, Increase the Peace Foundation and chairman of the coalition, said he hoped to see calm prevail after a verdict. "We need to start organizing now" to have that happen, he said.

The Inglewood coalition was formed soon after the July 6 incident involving police, Jackson and his father, Coby Chavis Jr.

Sheriff's deputies were questioning Chavis at the gas station about expired license tags when Morse and his partner, Bijan Darvish, arrived. What happened next is in dispute, but by the time it was over, Morse had thrown the handcuffed teenager onto the car and hit him.

Morse is charged with assault under the color of authority and Darvish is charged with filing a false police report. A judge is scheduled to hear a motion to dismiss the case Monday. That motion was filed by Morse's lawyer earlier this month after a Los Angeles County district attorney's investigator said Morse had not used excessive force.

On Saturday, Shah said there is a fear that rioters might "burn the city down" if the officers are found not guilty. Ordinary citizens, he said, must prevail over that fear. "We must say to the world that there will be peace after the verdicts, that there are people in the community who want to see the right thing done."

Although the rally was organized around the Inglewood beating case, the recent spate of murders in Los Angeles served as an ominous backdrop for the event. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) warned the crowd that "we have a crisis in the streets."

Kim Enix, 41, who lost her 18-year-old son in a May shooting, was one of more than 100 people who marched from the park to Manchester Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard after the rally.

Enix, whose son, Derreck Howell, was killed at the corner of 92nd Street and Western Avenue in Los Angeles and who lives in Long Beach, said she had heard about the Inglewood rally on the radio and turned her car toward the park.

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