Although he has received death threats for leading a march to protest the crime that plagues his neighborhood, the Rev. L. C. Carter plans another march in October to drive out drug dealers and prostitutes.
"Enough is enough already," said Carter, pastor of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. "I've come down here some mornings and had to remove semen-filled condoms from the lawn of the church. I lead a Bible study class with some 40 youngsters, and I can't let them go outside and play because bullets are flying everywhere."
Carter said he continues to receive death threats, apparently prompted by an Aug. 1 sermon he delivered to his congregation of about 350 parishioners. In it, he decried crime and asked residents and church members to join him in a march.
"I think I touched a nerve," said Carter. "I think what touched all this off was my desire to lead a march that was a visible march and that others would see the drug dealing and pimps."
The first two-mile walk was intended to let area residents know that "they don't have to be afraid," Carter said.
Carter said he continues to feel his life is at risk.
On one occasion, Carter said, a group of men approached him and his 8-year-old daughter and threatened them as the minister drove away from the church at 8725 S. Central Ave. "My daughter doesn't understand all this. She's had nightmares. But it's brought my family closer together and it's brought our church together," he said.
On Aug. 4, police arrested two men for allegedly making terrorist threats, according to police Detective Leon Smith of the Southeast Division. Police said the men allegedly told Carter, "You're putting your life on the line," and threatened to burn the church.
The two were later released after the district attorney's office and the city attorney declined to prosecute the case.
Little has changed at the church, Carter said, except for the increased concern of his congregation. "I don't ask for any protection, but there's always a brother looking over my shoulder."
Carter's situation has drawn the support of Davis Rodgers, president of the Watts branch of the NAACP, who took part in the first march.
"We support him and will march with him," Davis said. "We're tired of all the ills that have taken a toll on the community."