With stepped-up police patrols continuing in South Los Angeles, community groups and clergy called on city and county officials Friday to bolster resources for gang-intervention programs and services for at-risk youth and adults.

Twitter meme about Los Angeles gang violence.
Twitter meme about Los Angeles gang violence.
The groups spoke out in response to a wave of violence that hit South Los Angeles last weekend, leaving one person dead and nearly a dozen wounded in a series of shootings.

“The county and city of Los Angeles have failed to develop a comprehensive public safety strategy that protects our neighborhoods,” according to Karren Lane of the Community Coalition. “There have not been substantial investments in community-driven efforts to prevent crime and reduce recidivism. Instead, officials wait until crime spikes to invest additional resources into suppression and policing.”

South Los Angeles has been a focus of attention following last weekend’s shootings, coupled with earlier statistics showing a general increase in crime in the city.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck walked through Leimert Park on Wednesday in a show of support and to let residents and business owners know that police will be more visible on foot patrols.

According to the Los Angeles Times, residents who spoke to the pair talked primarily about employment resources and services for the homeless. But the mayor said it was important to reach out to the community following the recent shooting spree.

“I wanted to show that we’re here, city employees are here — we care,” Garcetti told The Times. “Thank God things have gotten a lot better very quickly. It shows our ability to do this as a city, but it’s one night at a time.”

Beck told reporters Wednesday that there had not been any signs of continuing gang violence in South Los Angeles since last weekend’s shootings. He also downplayed reports that social media posts tagged #100days100nights were an effort to spur further violence.

“There are many, many urban myths, and many of them coincide with gang activity,” Beck said. “We’ve dealt with (many) of them in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department. I would hope this is one of those. We have not seen any increase in events we can directly tie to this, but we are looking closely at it.”

The LAPD increased patrols in South Los Angeles following the shootings, which prompted the department to temporarily go on a tactical alert last Saturday.

The community activists who gathered in the area today said they want to see more than just uniformed officers wandering the area. They called for stepped-up funding for gang-intervention programs, dedicated county funding for a youth-development program and creation of a “public safety plan” including resources for mental health and drug treatment, along with services for crime victims.

“We cannot surrender our neighborhoods to fear,” said Gilbert Johnson of Community Coalition. “It is critical that our young people see residents filling our neighborhoods with everyday activities and actively working to build neighborhoods where our families can thrive.”

— City News Service

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