The city of Los Angeles recently filed a nuisance abatement lawsuit against Ebenezer Baptist Church in the South Park neighborhood in an effort to curb violence and the illicit sale of drugs and guns in the area.
But, rather than display resentment, the church’s pastor, the Rev. Kenneth Little, is expressing relief over the city’s intervention.
“I am grateful they stepped in because I didn’t know what to do,î Little told the Los Angeles Times. They can move forward in a manner that we weren’t able to do.”
One of the problem structures is a church-owned home across the street from Ebenezer. The Los Angeles Police Department says it has become a stronghold for the predominantly Latino Playboys gang. The Playboys came into being in Central Los Angeles in the 1950s and fanned out across the city They now allegedly have ties to the Mexican Mafia prison gang.
Little said that shootings at the residential property during church services have spooked congregants, and he has had to cancel Bible study sessions. In the last year, according to the abatement lawsuit, there have been five shootings at the site, as well as illegal narcotics and weapons sales.
In September, a person standing out front was shot and killed. In March, two people in the propertyís parking lot opened fire on a truck carrying rival gang members. And from December to April, undercover agents purchased 20 illegal firearms, three silencers and 122 grams of methamphetamine there, according to City Attoney Mike Feuer.
“This is an extremely dangerous situation for everyone in the community, from church congregants to the kids that go to the neighboring schools and park,” Feuer told The Times. “We hope to work with the church to eliminate the source of danger and make this a neighborhood where people can conduct affairs safely every day.”
The remedies, he said, include evicting the tenants and fencing off the property. The lawsuit also asks for an Internet-connected video monitoring system and better lighting on the site, The Times reported.
The lawsuit is part of the cityís push to expand its nuisance abatement effort, which targets properties that are sources of drugs and gangs.
Since July 2013, Los Angeles has filed 53 abatement actions and secured 58 injunctions involving nuisance properties, according to The Times. It has succeeded in closing nine gang- or narcotics-related sites, the city attorneyís office says.
—City News Service