In the wake of the firebombings and Sallee's murder, the city formed a hate crimes task force that morphed into the still-active Human Relations Commission, which focuses on hate-crime prevention and outreach to youth. Each year, the commission convenes a youth conference. And the city's annual Hands Across Azusa celebration, held the Sunday before Martin Luther King Day, draws hundreds to the lawn in front of City Hall.
Logan H. Westbrooks, a founding member of Human Relations Commission and pastor of Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, moved his church to Azusa in 2000. The church then moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, in part because of parishioners' fears of the gang violence, he said.
Westbrooks called the indictment a "godsend" because it showed people who had lived in fear of the gang that federal as well as local authorities were taking their plight seriously.
"Some felt as if no one cared" about the violence and threats, Westbrooks said. "And now this has happened. Someone does care."
Police and community leaders agreed that the community needs to remain vigilant. The indictment mentioned at least one attack as recent as 2010: Gang members assaulted a black high school student as he walked home from a track meet.
One former Azusa 13 member who spoke on condition of anonymity said he hoped the recent arrests and federal charges will help to break the culture that brought one generation after another into the gang.
"We were all brainwashed. Some of us got to realize it and some of us didn't. The [gang] culture's so deep you don't give it a second thought," the former gang member said. "Maybe the cycle will be broken now and future generations will not see color."
Times staff writer Sam Quinones contributed to this report.