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Latinos, blacks and a deadly junction

March 25, 2007

Re "Latino leaders' silence is killing us," Opinion, March 21

Kerman Maddox does a great service in sounding an important alarm. Now that Latinos are just a census count or two away from constituting an outright majority of the population of Los Angeles, it is incumbent on their leaders -- who are soon to be, if they are not already, all of our leaders -- to confront racism and prejudice in the community. As they embark on taking over the mantle of local leadership, it is their obligation and mandate to foster racial and interethnic harmony and collaboration.

LARRY KAPLAN

Los Angeles

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Of course more Latino leaders should have publicly condemned the violence perpetrated by a handful of Latino gang members against African Americans, but gang members couldn't care less. That's the point that is apparently lost on Maddox. Latinos aren't committing violent crimes against African Americans; a handful of Latino gang members are. Gang members aren't representative of law-abiding, productive Latino members of Los Angeles' society.

In this light, Maddox's statement that "Latinos are killing blacks in an effort to 'ethnically cleanse' their neighborhoods" is both outrageous and irresponsible. Again, the heinous crimes committed by a tiny percentage of the Los Angeles Latino population isn't a Latino problem, it is a gang problem.

GARY GARCIA

Los Angeles

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Maddox is right on the dime. As a black man, I can remember being sympathetic toward the hundreds of thousands of Latinos who took to the streets a few months ago accusing white Americans of being racist for wanting to protect the border. Yet, as hundreds, if not thousands, of Latino gang members harbor racist attitudes against blacks, spray racist graffiti and assault and kill innocent blacks, not one Latino has taken to the streets in protest.

So now I proudly declare that the anti-immigrant movement has a new and most dedicated member in me, and I'm certain many other blacks are following suit.

LAMARR MCNAIRY

Lakewood

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