With the mother of Sherrice Iverson looking on, the Los Angeles City Council condemned the Nevada casino murder of the 7-year-old and unanimously supported strengthening the state's Good Samaritan law to require witnesses of violent crimes against children to report them.
Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who brought the issue to the council, said the sexual assault and murder by 19-year-old Jeffrey Strohmeyer was a reprehensible crime and that his friend, David Cash, should have been held responsible for his role as a witness. Strohmeyer confessed to Cash, who never reported the crime to authorities.
Iverson's mother, Yolanda Manuel, spoke quietly before the council, thanking lawmakers for their efforts.
Najee Ali, a South Los Angeles community activist and spokesman for Manuel, said the state legislation is geared toward protecting children. To gather support, Ali is holding a "gathering of men" on Thursday at Sherrice's grave to condemn the girl's father for leaving her unsupervised while he gambled in the casino.
Council members spoke forcefully about the need for stronger laws, with several wondering why Los Angeles can't create its own Good Samaritan ordinance. (The reason, according to city officials, is that the state law would probably supersede any ordinance the council might enact.) "I think it should be a national law," said council President John Ferraro.