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City attorney assigns prosecutor to middle school in neighborhood plagued by gangs

February 02, 2007|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Targeting a South Los Angeles school plagued by gang crime, Los Angeles City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo said Thursday that he was assigning a prosecutor to Markham Middle School to help identify and eliminate gang problems in the surrounding neighborhood.

The prosecutor will coordinate enforcement efforts against seven local gangs as well as oversee sweeps for truants and parole violators in the area.

"Hopefully, we can make the neighborhood in and around Markham safer," Delgadillo said. "Kids can't learn if they are always afraid."

Delgadillo also announced that Majestic Realty was providing school uniforms for those at the 1,600-student middle school who can't afford them. About 85% of the students now wear uniforms, Principal Verna Stroud said.

Stroud said she appreciated any help that the city attorney's office and others could provide.

"We always welcome people who are looking out for the safety of our students," she said. "We are looking at this as prevention."

The neighborhood around Markham has been designated as a school safety zone because crime is so bad. The zone, which stretches 1,000 feet in every direction from the campus, has seen eight homicides, including three drive-by shootings in the last three years, and 145 assaults with deadly weapons.

The area is home to rival street gangs, including the Bounty Hunters, Grape Street Crips and South Side Village Boys.

Many students from the school are at risk of joining gangs. The school has issued 6,352 suspensions to students in the last six years.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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