Officials Say Cities Should Pool Efforts to Fight Gangs

Times Staff Writer

City officials have suggested that several cities in the Southeast and South Bay pool their resources to tackle growing problems with gangs.

Lynwood Councilman Robert Henning said the city was attempting to create a nonprofit organization, called a Joint Powers Authority, to raise money and plan other strategy against gangs.

The cities, in addition to Lynwood, would include Long Beach, Compton, South Gate, Carson and Gardena, Henning said.

The proposal was revealed Wednesday at a summit meeting attended by Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and about 75 elected officials, community leaders and other citizens.


‘In a Crisis’

“We are in a crisis,” said Lynwood Councilman Paul Richards. “We need an approach that will cut across all jurisdictions.”

Gardena City Councilman James W. Cragin said: “We are tired of being blown up and shot up in our communities” by gangs.

Many youths are lured into gangs because of the potential profit from drugs, said Emma Esparza, a member of the Lynwood Personnel Commission. She said a gang member had approached her daughter and offered to pay her $17,000 to sell drugs.


Her daughter refused, Esparza said, but the commissioner questioned whether others would do the same. “How are you going to tell a gang member making $17,000 on drugs to get out of the gang?” Esparza asked.

Lynwood resident Elizabeth Dixon, whose 19-year-old son, Eddie Melvin Dixon Jr., was killed in a drive-by shooting Feb 4. in South-Central Los Angeles, questioned whether authorities are devoting enough resources to gang problems in minority communities.

‘Can’t Find Money’

“When there was a killing in Westwood the authorities found money for more police protection. But they tell us they can’t find any money (to help with gangs),” said Dixon, who is black.

The session was one of three that Cranston scheduled Wednesday in Southeast communities to discuss gang problems.

He promised no specific action, but said this might be the time for the federal government “to cut back on what we are spending on the military and free the money for education, housing and fighting crime.”

Henning said other sessions are being set up “because elected officials need to know what is going on and to pass laws to protect us.” Rep. Mervyn M. Dymally (D-Compton) has been invited to attend an April 7 session, Henning said.