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It Takes a Community to Stop Gang Violence

September 08, 2002

I could not disagree more with your Sept. 3 editorial on standing up to street gangs. Given the disastrous and continuing effects of the LAPD's Rampart Division scandal, how can a new police chief be expected to fully "serve and protect a single city" when the department is facing disarray, decimation and poor morale? Let's be pragmatic and put the focus on healing the department and making it the premier police organization in the country. Then and only then will any chief have a chance of uniting the city and ending the shootings. Any other course could only be viewed as hypocrisy.

The citizens of Los Angeles have tolerated street gangs and even gang killings for many years. White Fence and Maravilla gangs have existed since before the end of World War II and have been the incubator of a dozen other gangs that still exist, both in and out of prison. Where is the evidence of citizen outrage and resistance? Nobody blinked an eye when Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams started a gang over 30 years ago that would become the Crips. The community did nothing to crush this menace while in its infancy and little while it was in its prime. The most violent and geographically expanding of all Los Angeles gangs, 18th Street, was established and flourishes to this day in a neighborhood known as Rampart. Where are the solid citizens when 18th Street is recruiting and dominating their children?

So, you see, it's up to both the community and the LAPD. The good guys must unify and take a stand. The LAPD must get its own house in order and then lead and inspire by shining example.

Douglas Hughes

Glendale

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It will take more than a new police chief to stop gang violence. We need reliable child care for working parents, credentialed teachers in every classroom, after-school programs for teens, job training programs and appropriate jobs for young adults, gun registration, an adequate minimum wage and fewer liquor licenses approved in inner-city neighborhoods to realistically begin to stop gang violence.

Ann Forman Sturman

Westlake Village

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