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Taft Shootings Are Part of a Shameful Trend

September 14, 2003

Re "3 Students Critically Hurt in Shooting Near School," Sept. 10: The shooting near Taft High School in Woodland Hills is but another example of the growing and indiscriminate violence that terrorizes families across Los Angeles. The Times' attention in covering this tragic event as a lead story, however, is part of the story itself.

On Aug. 13, I was at an elementary school in Boyle Heights when six shots rang out, resulting in a three-hour lockdown on campus. We learned that a young boy from Roosevelt High School had been killed, not even one block away from the school and one block away from the Hollenbeck police division. Another shooting had occurred at Roosevelt High School a few days earlier. Neither of these events was reported in The Times and, except for those who knew about them, there has been little public outcry.

L.A. Police Chief William Bratton is correct in criticizing the community for an amazing lack of public outrage about this senseless violence. Yet, as we say in Spanish, "Lo que no se ve, no se siente" (What one doesn't see, one can't feel). Unless the media place equal value on all lives lost, this community will not mobilize and take action against what is every parent's worst nightmare and the city's worst terror.

Maria A. Casillas

President, Families

in Schools, Los Angeles


I was at Taft High School soon after this shooting, accompanying a friend who needed to pick up her son. As I stood on the sidewalk, horrified, I surveyed the faces of the many students who appeared frozen in their tracks. The blank, empty expressions reminded me of photos you see of children who have faced way too much, way too soon.

I stood there, as an adult, feeling useless and ashamed. I was ashamed that we as adults have allowed this city to become so unsafe. Ashamed that we spend so little time devising ways to make our own children safe. How in the world can we as a country protect and help anyone else, when we are so inept in helping ourselves? We readily send troops to protect those in other countries, which is a noble gesture, but a hypocritical one. Who is going to look into those expressionless faces and explain? Don't look at me; I am simply too ashamed.

Karen Sokoloff

Studio City


I am a C-track social studies teacher at Washington Preparatory High School. This past June when I returned from a vacation I opened The Times to read that one of my students, Santiago Santos Vidrio, had been shot to death near his home the previous day. His death was attributed to gang violence. In late August, I attended the funeral of another one of my students, Daniel Fitzgerald. Daniel was shot on his way home from basketball practice. He was not a member of any gang. However, the word on the street is that Daniel was killed as part of a gang initiation.

Today, as I left school, I was told of the drive-by shootings at Taft. I hope and pray that at the next gubernatorial debate someone will ask the candidates what they would do specifically to deal with this growing cancer on our society. It's time that our elected officials and those running for office get their priorities straight. What do high or low taxes matter if somebody puts a bullet through your child's head? No youngster is safe from gang violence. Not my students at Washington Prep nor the students at Taft in the Valley nor my own son at Santa Monica High School. How many young people have to be murdered before politicians take notice and muster the political will to take action?

Nancy Weems


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