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- Newark gangs sign treaty to end hostility, agree to Bring the Peace (FCN, 07/10/2004)
- Farrakhan’s Message to the Gang Leaders (SD2002, 02/12/2002)
- Secret ties between CIA, drugs revealed (FCN, 1996)
LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com) – Los Angeles is the undisputed “gang capital” of the United States, and has been for several decades. But on January 17, a team of strategists presented to city officials a $100 million comprehensive plan, which they believe will stabilize the region’s war-zones and ultimately put an end to the crisis.
Approximately 500 people filled the Council Chambers for the more than three hour meeting, which detailed the final report in the Advancement Project’s (AP) three-phase Gang Activity Reduction Strategy Project.
Attorney Connie Rice, AP co-director, submitted “A Call to Action: A Case for a Comprehensive Solution to L.A.’s Gang Violence Epidemic,” in response to the City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development’s call for a far-reaching, citywide gang reduction strategy.
The mission fell in line with the AP’s exploration of revitalized approaches to problems of inclusion and equity since its inception in 1998.
“This report has been a long time coming and as chair of this committee, I’m excited and eager to dissect this report … as you’re going to see in the people who are assembled here today, the interest and commitment beyond this city is tremendous,” stated Councilman Tony Cardenas.
A federation of public health and safety, education, gang intervention and prevention, law enforcement, economic and community development, experts surveyed research and analyzed the successes and failures of current systems and programs targeting gang violence.
After its probe of funding sources, social programs, and the roles of schools, youth authority camps, the state and county, and civic groups, it concluded that Los Angeles needs a Marshall Plan to end gang violence. “Suppression alone is not enough. Law enforcement should be the last resort, not the first and only resort,” Atty. Rice stated.
This was the first time, she and observers recalled, that across the board, city departments, in part or wholly, supported the same plan targeting gang violence.
The report cited a lack of jobs for youth, poverty compounded by social isolation, domestic violence, hanging out with the wrong crowds, a lack of parental supervision, non-delinquent problem behavior, early academic failure and lack of school attachment as risk factors associated with gang membership and violence.
Recommendations included wraparound services comprised of school, church, community, law enforcement, city and state departments and other resources, working together with employment, after-school reading, homework and recreational programs to protect youth.
Minister Tony Muhammad, Western Regional Representative of the Nation of Islam (NOI), said that he was skeptical at first, but grew more impressed after reading the plan and speaking with Atty. Rice. “This is what we need as a city–to be blatantly honest because we have a spiritual problem. We have a social problem and we have an economic problem,” Min. Muhammad stated during his brief panel address with Christian and Jewish spiritual leaders.
“I’m here to represent the mothers who cry everyday; I’m here to represent those children who are being forced into a gang situation. I think if we would just close the gap spiritually, economically, socially, politically, and you would listen to these young men and women who have proven programs, I guarantee you within one year that Los Angeles could become the place that everybody looks at to solve these issues,” Min. Muhammad added.
Atty. Rice told the Final Call that Min. Tony Muhammad’s participation is essential to the plan. “Who better? He’s worked on these issues for so long. He’s a leader in this area,” she said.
The plan must pass a subcommittee and the full City Council, and then a vote for the implementation process. And if that happens, Atty. Rice stated, she will be counting on the NOI’s guidance and aid with public campaigns against youth access to guns, violence and killing, beyond Saturday marches and candlelight vigils. “Min. Tony and the NOI here have been in the vanguard position of getting people to move to healthier lifestyles forever, in their sleep. This would be a variation of what they’ve been doing,” she said.
Atty. Rice’s constructive criticism surrounding youth, gangs and violence fell on the civil rights sector as well. “We’re sitting there as consultants to severely criticize the City and I always make the point that I’m living in a glass house. I’m a Thurgood Marshall, Johnny Cochran-trained lawyer. Our sector helped in the apartheid revolution with our people, but our cases have not helped to stop this violence and we have not designed our cases to help stop this violence and so we, too, have failed,” she said.
Sheriff Lee Baca said that the study is unprecedented and addresses what has become more than a public safety issue involving 86,000 gang members. “This is also fundamentally a civil rights and community quality issue, that people who have to cower in bathtubs and not walk the streets with their children at night or even key peak hours in the daytime, for fear of a random bullet, or people who are being denied fundamental right to protection, thus, the responsibility is very, very large on your shoulders and mine,” he insisted.
City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo agreed with the AP that more resources and school centered approaches are needed; however, he disagreed with its call for an end to gang injunctions, which prohibit members of a specific gang from congregating in groups, being out at specific times, and possessing cell phones or pagers, among other activities.
“I see some help for our people, our city. I see a major decrease in our problem. They won’t be able to pass this bill without going into some huddles, but they can fund some of the organizations that are doing the work and we can help bring this to a head. We don’t have 15 more years of this. We will be extinct, no doubt,” stated Big Pete, a specialist with Unity Two, a L.A. based gang intervention and prevention group.