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Homeowners Take Offensive Against Gang Violence

A 17-year-old boy was killed. An unrelated gang gun battle in Pvt. Anderson Park left three bystanders wounded. And residents were frightened.

So members of the Del Amo Homeowner’s Assn. invited Carson officials and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department representatives to a recent meeting to discuss how to stop violence in their neighborhood.

“We want to stop the killing and the drugs. We want to know from the officials what to do about it,” said James H. Peoples, president of the association.

This week the homeowners presented the City Council with a petition signed by more than 200 people asking for increased police patrols in the area, stricter enforcement of park rules and a limit on the number of people allowed to use the park at one time.

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They also want other security measures such as a gate at the entrance to the parking lot and a requirement that large groups make a deposit to cover the cost of additional security.

Mayor Michael I. Mitoma told the homeowners at the April gathering that miscommunication between Parks and Recreation employees and the Sheriff’s Department kept deputies from breaking up the gang that was gathering before shots were fired. He said the parks staff was afraid gang members would have retaliated against them if deputies were called to break up the party.

“Our staff got very afraid of the situation and what would happen to them,” Mitoma said.

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He guaranteed the residents jammed into the community room that such large apparent gang gatherings would not be tolerated in the future.

When homeowners complained about a lack of responsiveness from the Sheriff’s Department, Mitoma gave out his home telephone number.

But he also cautioned residents about discriminating against people because they look like gang members. In working with people who want to get out of gangs, Mitoma said, it’s important to allow them to use city facilities.

“Either they’re going to be in a park playing baseball or in the street shooting up your kids,” Mitoma said.

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Sheriff’s Department officials said they understand that the two shooting incidents upset residents, but they pointed out that violent gang incidents in the area have decreased in the last few years.

No shootings have been reported in city parks since the incident, a spokesman said, but deputies arrested six gang members at Dolphin Park last weekend for consuming alcohol in public and playing loud music.


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