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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Anti-Gang Group Seeks to Expand : Santa Clarita: Mad About Rising Crime, founded by parents of slain youth, schedules first meeting for local chapter.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Lin Squires is sitting in her empty third-grade classroom, with a high school yearbook held in her crossed arms. She is talking about the night three years ago that her son was killed.

Marc Squires, a 15-year-old honor student at Granada Hills High School, was attending a party in Chatsworth after a football game when he was confronted by a male he did not know. When Marc walked away, he was fatally shot in the back.

Bayardo Martinez, then 18, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Martinez was believed to be a gang member, and Marc Squires’ mother is afraid the same kind of incident could easily happen in Santa Clarita.

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“The gangs’ armies are growing. The criminals’ armies are growing. I’ve seen what’s happened to the San Fernando Valley. I see it happening here,” said Squires, who has taught elementary school in Santa Clarita for six years.

Mad About Rising Crime (MARC) was formed by Squires and her husband in July, 1991, to raise awareness about gangs and encourage residents to become involved in the safety of their community.

The organization has about 100 active volunteers in the San Fernando Valley and, with the help of two local parents, Squires hopes to expand for the first time to another city.

“We’ll set a precedent,” said Rainette Lyons, who lives in Valencia and is helping form the Santa Clarita chapter. “We’ll say we saw the community was in jeopardy and did something to nip it in the bud.”

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The first Santa Clarita MARC meeting is scheduled for 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the United Methodist Church of Valencia, 25718 McBean Parkway. Organizers hope to have the Santa Clarita chapter operating by February.

Santa Clarita Valley law enforcement officials say they agree with the group’s goals and welcome its presence.

“Over the last two years, there’s definitely been a rise in gang-related crimes,” said Sgt. Carl Deeley, head of the anti-gang unit at the sheriff’s station in the valley. “One of the biggest battles we’ve been fighting out here is apathy and a lack of education.”

Organizers say they need to overcome the “hush” attitude prevalent in many cities, including Santa Clarita.

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“This isn’t something we need to be ashamed of, it’s something we should address,” Squires said. “If everybody in Santa Clarita would donate 15 minutes a month, can you imagine what they could do?”

Typical MARC activities include running a speakers bureau, educational programs, graffiti removal and recreation for youths to draw them away from gang involvement.

“It’s important to get the kids interested in it,” Lyons said. “We have to give them alternatives to crime and violence.”

The yearbook in Lin Squires’ hands is unsigned. It was distributed at the end of the 1990-91 school year and is dedicated to her son.

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The book’s final page includes a picture of Marc and a five-line poem he had written: “Guns. Black, cold. Knocking down many. I hate the sound . . . . Destroying.”

More information about MARC is available by calling (805) 253-3330.


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