Neighborhood’s Crime-Busting Drive Pays Off
A campaign to stamp out drugs and violence in a single neighborhood of South-Central Los Angeles officially ended Friday, with its organizers celebrating a 45% drop in crime and pledging to continue their grass-roots movement in troubled communities throughout Los Angeles.
Leaders and supporters of the Taking Our Community Back campaign gathered at Green Meadows Recreation Center to cite the accomplishments of their 45-day movement against gangs--not the least of which, organizers said, was being able to walk freely in that very park.
“This park has now been freed up,” said Brotherhood Crusade President Danny Bakewell, referring to the gang wars that used to plague Green Meadows and keep neighborhood residents away.
“If you go to the Avalon Gardens (housing project) you’ll see people are now sitting on their front porches,” continued Bakewell, chairman of the community campaign. “Children are now coming out to play, (and) that community is whole.”
Organizers contend that during the course of the six-week effort, crime dropped 45% in the 10-square-block target area bounded by 93rd Street, Avalon Boulevard, Central Avenue and Manchester Avenue.
Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief William Rathburn said it was too soon, and the number of crimes too small, to fully assess the effort. However, he said, “there’s no doubt it has been very successful,” with the number of emergency calls dropping significantly and cooperation between residents and police increasing.
Bakewell added that constant surveillance by patrol teams and phone calls to the Department of Building and Safety have resulted in one neighborhood rock house being scheduled for demolition and three others encountering a dramatic drop in business.
“We’re not so naive to believe that these people have changed their values and will no longer deal dope,” said Bakewell, who has also confronted businesses in the community that sell gang and drug paraphernalia. “But we have forced them to have respect for the community. They are no longer openly violating the law.”
Organizers said the movement will now take on a life of its own in the target community, with a committee of neighborhood residents encouraging existing block clubs and helping to create new ones.
Bakewell added that an executive director has been hired to specifically oversee the Taking Our Community Back effort. He said that in two weeks, organizers will announce a new neighborhood where the movement will be launched.
A manual will also be made available for other communities that wish to start similar efforts.