By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
After the riots in ’92, a truce was in place and holding. A lot of people, including myself, worked hard to make it happen. For the most part, the majority of gangs took part in the treaty. Following the peace treaty, gang violence plummeted to all-time lows.
But let‘s face the facts: The riot itself was the motivating factor behind the treaty. To be even more frank, it was common economic ground that brought us all together. Think about it. If I was in a store trying to move a huge safe, it didn’t matter to me that the man helping me was from the Rolling Sixties. It mattered more -- to both of us -- what was inside the safe. After three days of this sort of cooperation, gang members saw that they could get along. The reasoning behind it didn‘t matter. A sense of community had been temporarily restored.
The city of Los Angeles failed to take advantage of this golden opportunity. At a time when officials could have recognized underlying causes and helped to articulate a vision for the future, there was a resounding silence from downtown -- a silence that echoes to this day. Back when Willie Williams was chief, the LAPD constantly broke up any meetings we had in our attempts to fill that silent void. Meanwhile, the media portrayed the gang truce as a unification directed at undermining police and city officials. Jobs promised by politicians never materialized. The national spotlight that had been turned briefly on South-Central extinguished. Hope was once again replaced by hopelessness.
New Police Chief William Bratton is pushing for 3,000 more police officers. He has met with so-called community leaders who really don’t have control of the community, nor leadership abilities. Could Colin Powell put an end to the violence in Israel by conversing with Vicente Fox of Mexico? He can‘t! Yet, this is exactly the mistake that Bratton is making by talking with the Nate Holdens, the Mark Ridley-Thomases and the Danny Bakewells of our world.
My advice to Mayor Hahn and Chief Bratton is this: You have a war raging in the streets of Los Angeles. Treat it as such! Acknowledge the fact that there are real human beings engaged in battle on your streets. If you want the problem stopped, go to the source of the problem -- the gang members. Sit down with the combatants. Listen to the meaning of the body count. Talk to them and find out what is needed to end the war. Can you, Mayor Hahn, replace the hopelessness of 50 percent unemployment here with jobs? Can you give these men and women a chance at life? Show them that they, too, can have a stake in their community and city. The only way to achieve this is by communication.
Ask for a ceasefire while talks are going on. Get two O.G.s [original gangsters] from every major set in the city and establish a dialogue. The younger generation will listen to the O.G.s out of respect and hope. The question is, will city officials listen to the O.G.s?
We have tried everything else, and we have nothing to lose but maybe another 600 lives in the coming year.
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