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Reasons behind the violence

June 17, 2008

Re "In L.A., race kills," Opinion, June 12

Kudos to Sheriff Lee Baca. They say that the first step to curing a problem is to admit that there is a problem. When will the mayor and police chief of Los Angeles wake up and smell the coffee?

I think back to the numerous senseless murders of young men and women in the last year -- the athlete killed in L.A., the shootings of innocent people stopped at a light in Torrance or standing at a hamburger stand in L.A. And I recall Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton responding to the media and saying it was gang violence, not racially motivated violence. What do you call it when blacks are killing browns and browns are killing blacks?

Wake up, people. We have a racial war going on. When are we going to realize that this is self-destructive?

Patrice Leflore

Carson

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Wow, "loose-knit bands of blacks and Latinos roaming the streets looking for people of the other color to shoot." Hyperbole much? As a social justice activist who works to combat the continual and false depictions of people of color and immigrants en masse as violent criminals, I was horrified by Baca's remarks.

Furthermore, his "Gang Emergency Operations Center" analysts can pore over data until the cows come home. Living-wage jobs, affordable housing, high-quality public schools, universal healthcare and universal child-care are the real answer to the question of how to reduce violence.

Bethany Leal

Los Angeles

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Re "Race, gangs divide chief, sheriff," June 13

This article shows why the Los Angeles Police Department has a gang problem. I have 16 years of experience as a Los Angeles police officer, with time in two gang units. I have enough experience to view Baca's assessment as more logical than the LAPD's on gang violence.

I wonder why LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck acknowledges that racial tensions play a role on school campuses and prisons but not the streets. Campus race riots occur between participants who arrive from the streets. Race riots in prisons have mainly been between African American and Latino gangs, not between the racial groups broadly.

Baca, with a countywide jurisdiction, has more law enforcement resources to assess gang trends. Sheriff's deputies can screen incarcerated gang criminals and gather reliable intelligence. The LAPD usually has to depend on the sheriff's gang unit to update its files. Gangs may rule Los Angeles streets, but the sheriff rules gang intelligence.

Carl McGill

Los Angeles

The writer is CEO and president of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles County.

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