CITY WATCH : ‘No’ to a Few Thugs

The sponsors are right to plan to hold Fiesta Broadway again in 1995, despite the gang violence that forced last Sunday’s street fair to close early. It would be sad indeed if a handful of hoodlums were to kill an annual event that has become the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the United States, drawing half a million people to Downtown Los Angeles.

How easily a few can spoil the enjoyment of thousands was illustrated when promoters canceled Santa Ana’s fifth annual Mariachi Festival and Fair, scheduled for next weekend, because of the Los Angeles disturbances.

The irony is that most gangbangers consider mariachis and other facets of Latin American folklore a colossal bore. They prefer the rock music that everyone involved agrees was the flash point at Fiesta Broadway.

So one lesson for next year is obvious: De-emphasize entertainment that draws mostly teen-agers and young adults in favor of that which draws families and thus people of many ages. All but hard-core gang members usually behave when children and parents are near.


As for those thugs who just won’t get the message any other way, make them unwelcome next year with a lot more security. Los Angeles police handled this year’s trouble about as well as could be expected. Next year they must have more backup. A total ban on alcohol sales in the area is also a must.

Events like Fiesta Broadway can do so much to enliven life in a big, often impersonal city and are too important to surrender to a few violent losers.