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Kicking the Gang Habit

Kicking the Gang Habit

That was an excellent article by Jeffrey Anderson and Christine Pelisek [“Broken Bridges,” Dec. 15–21]. As a high school counselor in Los Angeles, I have had only good dealings with the L.A. Bridges program and have found it and its employees to be most reliable, at least at the school-based level. However, why did the city take so long to take appropriate action if the situation was questionable and known of for such a long time?

Psychologists and professionals will tell you these days that the gang lifestyle is a learned antisocial behavior that our youth can quickly become obsessed with, especially when family and community members all too often turn a blind eye to it. This “behavior,” which has a whole different set of morals, can also in many ways parallel the disease concept of many popular addictions, such as alcohol, drugs and gambling. The key is in prevention, but schools can only do so much.

The “recovery” rates vary as well. We see contrasts ranging from no recovery, usually in which parents raise their children “in the hood,” to partial recovery, where the parents are sometimes still gang-involved but not the children, and on to full recovery, where the parents have dealt with their issues seriously, usually becoming more educated and thus able to maintain a stronger family unit.

M.J. Parker

Counselor, LAUSD

“War on Terror” Refugee

Many thanks for the excellent article by Marc Cooper on the possibility that Donald Rumsfeld and his cohorts could be held accountable for their part in the human-rights abuses in the “war on terror” [“Run, Rummy, Run!,” Dec. 15–21]. While Germany has indeed explicitly enacted universal-jurisdiction legislation, it is interesting to note that the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment place a legally binding obligation on states that have ratified them to exercise universal jurisdiction over persons accused of torture and other grave breaches, or to extradite them to a country that will. If this were widely enforced, it could become quite risky for Rumsfeld et al. to set foot outside the United States.

Mary Shaw

Philadelphia Area Coordinator,

Amnesty International USA

The Other Sides of “Big O”

I write this letter in response to the article “Shades of Brown” [Dec. 22-28]. Author Daniel Hernandez paints a prejudiced and one-sided portrait of Otis Chandler and the way he ran the Los Angeles Times, with which I couldn’t disagree more. It seems anytime Hernandez mentions Chandler, it is to baselessly attack his character: Chandler could talk to regular folk “especially if they liked to work on the fast cars he loved to drive.” This is both tacky and distasteful.

The mention of Frank del Olmo bitterly penning a farewell in the Times noting that the “Chandlers’ L.A. Times” helped fuel zoot-suit hysteria couldn’t be further from the truth. Most national newspapers were writing about the zoot-suiters in the early ’40s, including The New York Times, La Opinión and Time magazine. Even the phrase “Chandler clan” screams rude. At Chandler’s funeral, in February, I was proud to hear stories of his liberalism and public service.

During the service, Big Willy Robinson, founder of the Inter­national Brotherhood of Street Racers, said he saw Otis Chandler save L.A. from burning during the Watts riots. Chandler was out on the street with police and leaders of three major gangs, riding together in patrol cars to keep L.A. from burning up — he was not hiding behind a desk. Big Willy ended by saying he knew he was going to meet “Big O” in heaven. I can only imagine it took courage and altruism to do something like that.

The Times started as a right-wing paper, and Otis Chandler changed that by standing up to the paper’s longtime prejudices. In a move that angered a lot of people who gave him the job, Chandler agreed to publish a string of editorials about the John Birch Society and ordered a front-page editorial condemning the group’s extreme conservative views.

Because of this, 15,000 readers canceled their subscriptions. However, the paper was going in a different direction and, over time, gained many more readers.

After this came other series about immigrants, their hardships and their stories. These kinds of articles just didn’t come out at that time and Otis Chandler spearheaded the idea that everyone should be heard and all problems should be talked about — not just white problems.

Claudia Chandler

Silver Lake

Corrections

In an interview with Cate Blanchett [Dec. 22–28], her husband was misidentified; his name is Andrew Upton. And in a list of unsung performances from 2006 [“Best Films of 2006,” Dec. 28–Jan. 4], the actor playing the young gay Latino character in Quinceañera was misidentified; he is Jesse Garcia.


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