Jocelyn Y. Stewart is a Times staff writer whose last piece for the magazine was on Endesha Ida Mae Holland

Imagine living in a community that is best known for its failures.

Your home is synonymous for things gone wrong. People who have never spent any appreciable time in the community actually believe they know the place, but what they really know are its problems, abiding questions and perhaps a tally of its tragedies.

During the warmest months of last year, 39 people were killed on the streets of the LAPD’s Southeast Division, an area that is known to some as South-Central; an additional 146 people were wounded by gunfire. From Jan. 1 through mid-December, 76 people were killed in Southeast. The list includes 23 victims who were 21 years old or younger. Of those, nine were too young to even vote, but their deaths contributed to Southeast’s winning the title of deadliest police division in the city.

Put it all on film and the resulting movie would rival Hollywood’s worst excesses--bullets flying, bodies falling, close-ups of the faces of dead boys, men and women.


It means something to live in a community notorious for violence. It means living with caution and sometimes fear. It also means you see more than tragedy. It means you know, even if you cannot explain it, that violence does not define you or the place where you are from. Southeast and adjacent neighborhoods are shared territory, claimed by those building dreams and by those constructing nightmares.

At the same time that men and boys were killing each other last summer, nearly 200 students were graduating from Locke High School, kids were splashing in inflatable plastic pools, God’s music sweetened the air above churches along Broadway and beats dropped loud and heavy from the windows of passing cars. People went to work, ran their businesses, raised their children, planned their future. And an old man took his horse for a walk down Avalon Boulevard.

“It’s love all around here,” says 21-year-old William Henagan Jr., an aspiring videographer.

And danger.

“What don’t kill you, make you stronger,” he says of his experiences. “That’s the way I look at it.”

If you come from here, you know this paradox, the apparent contradictions. You learn to navigate this territory, without even knowing you are being taught. And if someone asks you to talk about your life here, to describe what you see, you produce a wild mix of images, the best and the worst of people, a river in the desert.

Imagine walking through this community with people who know it.


THE FIRST STOP IS A SIDEWALK ON WADSWORTH Street, where 72-year-old Julian Jones and another, older man are eyeing a pile of junk as if it were a long-despised enemy. Workers sent by the city hauled the mess from the alley and then left. A truck was supposed to collect the old mattresses, tires, wood frames and other debris from the curb. That was two weeks ago. The neighbor lady has been fussing about it. People are tired of looking at it.


“Call the people,” the neighbor says.

“I have called,” Jones explains.

“Well, call again.”

The neighbor looks to the reporter: “Can’t you have them do something about this?”

Jones interrupts: “I’ll call again.”

He turns to walk inside, knowing he has called everybody, knowing it is his responsibility to keep trying.

“I just try to make the most of what little bit I have,” he says. “I’m all for progress.”

A pile of junk on the sidewalk is nobody’s idea of progress.

All his life Jones has been trying to get ahead. At 17 he enlisted in the Air Force and spent four years, six months and 19 days in the 505th Airborne, a segregated unit. Then he worked for the U.S. Postal Service. In 1956 he chased progress all the way to Los Angeles, figuring he could woo it with hard work. He cleaned buildings, worked for the IRS, drove trucks and delivered flowers for a Wilshire Boulevard shop. His route included the Pacific Palisades home of then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and the grave of Marilyn Monroe, which he dressed once a year with flowers from her admirers.

“I been all over this city. I done lived almost every place--and I gravitated back to the Eastside,” he says. “It’s just like the rest of Los Angeles. The same idea. People care about My. Me. Mine.”

In his retirement, he is still chasing progress, hunting it down for everyone who lives on the street. Mr. Jones is the neighbor who knocks on your door if you parked on the wrong side on street-sweeping day and stand to get a ticket. He is the one who orders the teens throwing a football in front of his house not to break anything. And he warns them to stop all that cursing or he’ll tell their mamas. “Ah, Papa, be cool, Papa,” they tell him.

Mr. Jones is the one who speaks enough Spanish to compliment his neighbors on the plates of food they send him when they have parties: “Es bueno,” he says, “bueno.” And he is the neighbor who sees the potential in a bright 6-year-old named Stacey, who sees the boy as a promise of some good future.

“That kid is amazing,” Jones says. “He always comes to me with something a little deeper than a 6-year-old would ask.”


On a July day Stacey shows up with twisted handlebars and a loose bicycle seat; Mr. Jones can fix them. Stacey also brings questions; Mr. Jones can answer them.

“Why can’t I go see that movie my mommy is going to see?” the boy asks. Mr. Jones explains the difference between a film for children and one for adults.

“Hmph,” the boy declares. “They shouldn’t make it if I can’t see it.”

Like a doting grandfather, Mr. Jones tells Stacey stories, laughing as if he’s telling them for the first time. They are buddies, this little boy who lives in a house with no men and the man who lives in a house with no children.

Mr. Jones is proud of the boy, amused and intrigued by him. But fear runs just as deep. “I just hope don’t nothing happen to him,” he says, “I hope he lives to be a productive person.”

The concern seems jarring, directed at a little boy still in skates--unless you know what Mr. Jones knows.

On the corner last year, a drug dealer named Michael was shot to death. Mr. Jones knows the gunman wasn’t born a killer and Michael wasn’t born a dealer. Something made them that way, something that has nothing at all to do with progress.


“They grow up and hit that curve, and when you hit that curve, you can go one way or the other,” Mr. Jones says. You close in on progress or fall back from it, your eyes clouded by its dust.


IN THE NAME OF PROGRESS, BLACK MEN AND WOMEN fled the South in huge numbers during and immediately after WWII. They left places whose names were synonymous with injustice, where the worst battles of the civil rights movement were fought, where the casualties piled the highest. Between 1940 and 1944 the African American population in Los Angeles increased from 63,774 to 118,888. Those who came during that great exodus raised children who were often one generation removed from rural life--and rural poverty. The city was a new world, full of challenges different from anything that these families had known in the South. This was a time of transition.

The grandparents who raised William Henagan Jr. belong to that generation.

”. . . Texas, Mississippi, Alabama,” William says. “Those are my roots.”

Those who came here were pushed by the violence of Jim Crow and pulled by a promise: “When you come from the country like that, they tell you the streets of Los Angeles is lined with gold nuggets,” Mr. Jones says.

Ruth Burdette, 70, came to Los Angeles in 1943 as a teenager from Lawton, Okla. She did not bring bitterness with her, she says, just a desire for a new life.

“I just always knew, when I used to carry them lunch out there in the cotton fields, that I didn’t want to be there,” Burdette says. “I used to work on my sisters’ cuticles. They’d be all torn up. They’d want to go with their little boyfriends on Saturday night. I would have to put what we call old grease on there and just paste it down, so you couldn’t see the rawness beneath. They had to be careful not to let the boys hold their hands; it would push that meat up.”

Jimmie Jones left Texas decades ago expecting to see pretty girls, movie stars and magic at the intersection of Sunset and Vine. He was struck with wanderlust, the same force that has sent men on voyages of adventure through the ages. Jones landed in Burbank at a carwash, where he met his future wife. “I was washing,” he says. “She was drying.”


They eventually bought a house on 111th Street. “It was beautiful,” Jones says.

A young couple could find opportunity in those days. They also found discrimination in jobs and housing. Before the war, the city’s landscape was shaped by restrictive covenants, documents that determined who could live where. Restrictive covenants ended, technically, in 1948, but by then, the part of town that would be dubbed South-Central--including Southeast--had been created. The majority of the city’s black population had already been squeezed into this one section of town, isolated and ghettoized.

And it still produced success.

In 1967, Alain Leroy Locke High School opened, the first high school in the city named after an African American. Locke was a philosopher and scholar, the writer who first defined the Harlem Renaissance.

The school boasted an award-winning marching band, headed by Don Dustin and Frank Harris, and such teachers as Barbara Palmer, whose English students would remember her long after they’d left. In the 1970s and ‘80s the school produced musicians Patrice Rushen, Ndugu Chancler, Rastine Calhoun and Gerald Albright; athletes Valerie Briscoe Hooks, Ozzie Smith and Cynthia Cooper; physician Dr. Rodney Franklin; actor William Allen Young, who plays the father on “Moesha”; and teachers and social workers and entrepreneurs and everything a community needs.

But, at the same time, this part of town took blow after blow. It suffered in the aftermath of the Watts Riots in 1965 and then from 1970 through 1985, when factories such as Goodyear and General Motors left the city, taking about 70,000 jobs with them. Chaos flowed into the community in the form of crack cocaine, aggravating every existing problem. Gangs grew larger, and more violent. Young men went off to prison, leaving their absence everywhere. Recessions hung around longer here. Prosperity had a hard time finding the place.

William Henagan Jr., was born in 1979. By 1993, the year after the L.A. riots, he was 14, old enough to have a man-to-man talk with his father. That day William learned what crack had given and taken from his family. He learned that some people he loved also loved the pipe. The point of the talk was to push reality forward, to warn the teen and force him to make a choice.

“When I was 14,” William says. “I felt like I was 21.”

Teenage boys are the same everywhere: They explore, they try on different versions of manhood, they look around for clues--how to walk, talk, act. The streets could have taken William. Sometimes they seemed close to winning him. Sometimes they protected him. “My father spread the word through his hood: If you see my son out here on the corner, scoop him up and take him home to his grandfather,” he explains.


This is how William arrived at the man he is now. He grew up seeing everything, hearing everything, being close to it--then being scooped up. Now his life is a collage of influences: he is hip-hop energy, but he speaks old-man proverbs. He is a descendant of the South, facing urban complexity. He lives in an isolated neighborhood, but he is holding fast to a dream that is classic L.A., as mainstream as you can get.

“I would love the opportunity to do a large film here,” he says. “Have my name on music videos, have my name on an award-winning documentary.”

He fell in love with film one day at Locke High School in the video production lab. He met his best friend Derell Holmes there and they started dreaming together: H&H; Production Co. They have no equipment yet, and no backers. But they have stories to tell.



All she needs is enough to make a garden grow. When it arrives, brown grass will come to life, its colors catching passing eyes. The stretch of grass that runs down Broadway between 101st and 102nd streets will be a topiary garden dressed up on the holidays, a peaceful refuge on any day.

“I can just see people coming together and just enjoying something we created. I know people would notice it.”

But on this day there is no water and nothing beautiful to look at. The stretch of grass has been thirsty ever since the sprinkler system broke, she explains. Until the system is fixed, this garden is growing only in her mind. She will not let it die.


“I will just be stubborn and wait,” she declares.

Dolores Sheen is her father’s daughter. Dr. Herbert A. Sheen came to Los Angeles from Texas in 1945 and set up a practice on 103rd Street and Graham Avenue. With the proceeds from his practice he founded Sheenway School and Culture Center. He gave the school the motto: “A child is a promise of immortality.” He gave his daughter a philosophy that has guided her life.

Sheenway is a beloved institution, but Aunt Dolores wants more. At 62 years old, she is shy about nothing.

“I laugh loud, and I cry loud,” she says. And she plans big--especially when it comes to children. You watch her and know she would do just about anything to save one--cross a desert, coax water from a rock.

In a community without a movie theater or a mall, where there is not enough to look forward to or be involved in, the doctor’s daughter sees potential: Young men and women without jobs, learning trades by building in their community, not fast-food restaurants but homes for the elderly, a community theater, a community farm, a crisis intervention center. They could take the skills and then build lives.

Given her other dreams, planting a garden seems like an easy thing to do. She approached the city in 1997; officials told her no.

“We planted anyway,” she says. On a Saturday dubbed “Make a Difference Day,” volunteers planted pretty poppies and geraniums around the trees on the median, like she had seen in other communities.


“They cut them down,” she says, the flowers having been called a hazard by city workers.

Aunt Dolores’ plans just got bigger. The next year she applied for a Neighborhood Matching Grant from the city to create a topiary garden. The proposal included money for a bus bench and shelter for the young people she sees sitting on the curb and the old folks she sees leaning on their canes, waiting at the bus stop in front of her school.

Aunt Dolores was awarded a $2,000 grant and she matched it with donations of plants and shovels and volunteer hours. She and the volunteers were all set to plant, and then they learned the water sprinklers were broken. They are still broken. “I know it would be fixed if we were in Beverly Hills,” she says.

But dry land and broken things do not keep her still. It is Aug. 1 of last year, and Aunt Dolores has organized a Dream March, a walk to the lawn of Los Angeles City Hall, to sing and to “let the public know there are people in our neighborhood who are striving.” She plans to show up, her flowers in tow.

On this morning, the thermometer reads boiling. It is too hot to have the children march, and there is confusion over the starting point. Aunt Dolores arrives at City Hall late, with one banner and one other person, Michael Massenberg, a volunteer at the school.

If she is disappointed, she does not show it--and she does not leave.

Dolores Sheen is her father’s daughter. She is not the leaving type. Aunt Dolores and Massenberg stand and then sit on the steps of City Hall. In English and in Spanish, they greet passersby like ambassadors. They explain about the place they call home. Sometimes they get smiles and handshakes. Sometimes they are ignored.


IN THE NAME OF PROGRESS, IMMIGRANTS FROM MEXICO AND CENTRAL America fled their homes in the 1980s and 1990s, pushed by war and poverty, pulled by opportunity. In 1970, this part of the city was 9% Latino, but by 1990 the percentage had increased to 44%.


Now the Virgin of Guadalupe watches over the streets of Southeast L.A. In the courtyard of an apartment off San Pedro, an altar sits, adorned with a statue of the Virgin, draped in rosary beads and surrounded by paintings of Jesus Christ, holy water, candles, roses and daisies. Here prayers can be heard if you listen long enough: “Merciful Virgin, Mary of Guadalupe, show clemency, love and compassion to those who love you . . .”

Tania Cruz, 22, was just a little girl when her mother left their home in La Lima, Honduras. The biggest employer there was a banana company. Mom worked in shipping and receiving. But in that economy it was impossible for a single mother to survive. Cruz’s mother came to the United States and found work as a janitor. She saved enough money, then she sent for her children. Cruz was 6.

“I used to think that this was like paradise,” says Cruz, who lives in the Imperial Courts housing projects. “You think it’s going to be so beautiful. I remember I wanted to see tall buildings like in the pictures my mom used to send.

“We lived in a small town [in Honduras]. Over there it was dirt roads, and my neighbors used to have a house in the back. It was made of mud. I knew that here it wasn’t going to be like that. People used to talk about the United States. ‘It’s so pretty over there, you can make a lot of money.’ When I came it didn’t really matter where we lived, because I was with my mom.”

Yvette Villalobos’ family came from Guadalajara, Mexico, but she was born in Los Angeles. Now Mexico is a place to vacation each year, a visit to the life she might have had.

“I don’t think I would have so many things that I have now, opportunities,” the 18-year-old says. “Over there a worker might get paid $20 a week, working from morning until it gets dark. Over there going through high school you have to pay. Everything you need for school you have to bring it.”


In this now-mixed community, Latinos and African Americans sometimes settle into cold silence, sometimes erupt in open hostility.

But there is just as much common ground. Villalobos graduated from Sheenway and is now Sheen’s assistant. Around here you might see a woman with Louisiana roots, passing a bowl of tomatoes grown in her back yard to a neighbor from Durango, Mexico. When the bowl comes back it is filled with tamales. At one Cinco de Mayo celebration, mariachi musicians play, then turn the stage over to a blues band. Guests eat barbecued chicken, or tamales and rice and beans.

Around here, some people gather to fight problems, not each other.

It is Sept. 22, the last hours of the summer of 2000, and the meeting room at the Airport Marriott hotel is packed with residents of South Los Angeles, African Americans and Latinos. Everybody in the room is a contestant. The game is “The Needy and the Greedy: The Game that Unlocks the Mystery of Why There Is So Much Poverty in South Los Angeles When the Rest of the County is Booming.”

This is a workshop at the Community Coalition’s “State of South Los Angeles 1990-2010.” The organization works to transform the social and economic conditions that foster crime, violence and addiction in South L.A. The point of the game is to learn and discuss how things came to be as they are. The questions are given in a game-show format, flashing on a screen in front of the room. The room is divided into teams, each a mix of African Americans and Latinos. Cruz is one of those answering questions.

“What percentage of adults in South L.A. do not have health insurance?

A. 25% B. 73% C. 10% D. 50% E. 3%

Hands shoot up. The answer is given. D, 50%

Of all the children removed from their homes by the county foster care system, how many are from the planning area that includes South L.A.?

A. 45% B. 23% C. 95% D. 66% E. 80%.”

Hands shoot up. The judge calls on a contestant and the answer is given: 80%. Sometimes the answers astonish even residents. The group discusses a history that they have each inherited. They examine policy decisions that helped shape the communities, such as the decision to treat crack addicts as criminals, to build prison beds and not hospital beds. Parents are incarcerated instead of getting help.


For 10 years the Community Coalition has been battling historic problems: It has monitored liquor stores, worked on improving schools, dealt with welfare. This group has always included African Americans and Latinos. At this conference they talk about building a movement together. They watch films about organizers in Mississippi who created Head Start. They see themselves following a tradition.

“We’re not satisfied,” famed voting-rights organizer Fannie Lou Hamer says to them through history. “And we haven’t been satisfied [for] a long time.”



being laid, bicycles repaired and gardens planned, on the other side the same disaster scene is playing again and again.

In May, police respond 83 times to a report of shots fired in Southeast. That same month, gunfire wounds 36 people. In July, the number rises to 111 responses and 49 injured.

As summer wears on, the deaths and injuries mount. Violence inflicts itself on families who once traveled far to escape it. Bullets do not ask names; death does not discriminate.

On July 6, Ruth Burdette is in her kitchen, making biscuits. Her grandson, 30-year-old Len, is there too, the boy she kept in tap dance class into his teens, just to give him something to do, the same boy she sent to the Navy to help make him a man. The two share a love of sweets, peach cobbler and coconut cake. On this day he asks her to bake him a cake. He says he is going to pick up his daughter from day-care, and she says OK. But something keeps nagging at Burdette.


“I could always tell when something is wrong with my kids,” she says.

“I walked to the door with him. I didn’t know what to ask him, and I didn’t know why I was standing at the door with all this flour in my hand. He said, ‘Look at you. You got flour in your hand. I don’t want none of them biscuits.’ I don’t know why I did it, but that was the last time I seen him.”

Len Breazeale is the father of six children. That day he is standing in front of his daughter’s day-care center on 118th Street, talking with a friend. A car carrying two men drives up; one gets out and begins firing, striking both men. The friend survives. Breazeale is pronounced dead at the scene. Neither Breazeale nor his friend is believed to be in a gang, according to police.

“They were just in an area that is known to be a 118 East Coast Crip area,” says Linda Compton, a Southeast homicide detective. “There was a war going on between 118 East Coast Crips and Athens Park Bloods.”

Los Angeles police identified a 32-year-old gangster as a suspect in the killing, but he was gunned down in a separate incident before he could be arrested.

Burdette always figured she would die before her grandson, but she is the one left to comfort her daughter, Len’s mother. Burdette is trying to pull her own child out of depression, days spent in the bed trying to sleep pain away.

“You don’t know what it is to watch one of your children slowly die,” Burdette says, sitting in her living room behind a portrait of her mother. “I feel if I don’t catch her soon, I’ll lose her. And I don’t know how. First time in my life I’ve never known how . . .”


The same streets that pulled Jimmie Jones from Texas are no place for his grandson Jamar. Jimmie Jones asks the 16-year-old to stay off the streets at night. So do his grandmother, his aunt and his uncle Kevin Drew. Drew holds Bible study in the family home and Jamar participates. He talks about getting back in church; he talks about first wanting to hear from God, a divine voice calling him.

On the evening of July 2, Jamar leaves the house. His grandfather hears him but, at 82, cannot catch him. “Seem like sometime you can sense something’s gon happen,” he says. “Just a feeling. I don’t know why I was running so hard to catch him. I felt he was gon slip off that night. I heard a car, I saw him pass by the window. I just seen somebody running by the window, and he run to the car before I could get to the door. I never seen him alive again.”

At about 11 p.m. Jamar is standing at an apartment building on Main Street near Imperial Highway, not far from the family home. A car drives up. Someone opens fire. Jamar’s Aunt Berlinda hears what sounds like firecrackers. It is the sound of Jamar and two other young men being shot.

Jamar dies at King-Drew Medical Center in the early morning hours of July 3. Police said the apartment building is a known gang hangout, though Jamar was not in a gang. Police arrested 25-year-old Lavell Reed in Jamar’s killing.

At his funeral, little boys wear the posture of old men. They slump in grief, heads in hands. Young men and women wear T-shirts airbrushed with Jamar’s image and a pledge of love. Jamar is buried in a powder blue casket. Next to it stands an arrangement of white carnations and light blue ribbons; “From Daddy” is written on a white ribbon.

The minister who preaches at Jamar’s funeral is trying to reach the young people in front of him: He tells them about when he was a drug dealer, when he was shot, “a few inches from my heart.” He tells them how he had to change.


“I’m here preaching to you today,” he says, “It pays to serve the Lord.”

Faith is this family’s solace. Drew believes Jamar, in those final moments before death, heard the voice he wanted to hear. It was sweet, and he followed it home.

On Aug. 1, a stray bullet hits a 7-year-old boy as he is riding his bike in front of his house in Southeast. The boy, Trevion, is critically wounded. By fall his bullet wounds are a bad memory.

“He fine,” says his mother from behind a security door. “He back in school.” She does not want to talk about it. She does not want to open the door.

A 15-year-old named Charles Benn is shot while riding his bike Aug. 7 near 96th and Antwerp streets. Police have made no arrests and say witnesses will not cooperate. Luis DeLoa, who police say belonged to a Latino gang, South Los, was gunned down Aug. 10 at Main and 111th streets. A suspect was arrested and released after witnesses recanted.

For the six to eight homicide detectives of Southeast, 2000 was a year of long, hard work. “You don’t come here to retire,” Compton says. “You come here to work. We have seven times the murders of some divisions.”


TO GROW UP HERE IS TO KNOW A SAD FACT: A BULLET CAN FIND YOU BEFORE YOU FIND YOURSELF, BEFORE you have gone to the prom or gotten a driver’s license.


William knew four people who died violently during and just before the start of summer, including a 21-year-old who went by the name Kilo. Kilo was in a gang, but he was also William’s friend. He would give William bus fare if he needed it and would drive him to work to keep him off the streets.

“That was the only funeral I went to this summer,” William says. “I didn’t know how big a place he had in my heart. When I was younger, I used to try to keep up with the obituaries. Now I don’t. I just don’t even see the point.”

No walls separate those just trying to live and those caught up in a spirit of destruction. If you are young, what do you do? You can’t be completely ignorant of this other life, because ignorance can get you killed. Get too close to it, and it will kill you. Add this to the list of teenage stresses: pimples, first dates, death. “I look at these kids today, they’re 14 pushing 30,” William says.

Some young people always find a way to succeed. But the diplomas they accept say nothing about what some of them have accomplished. Or about the memories they carry.

Again and again William has had to answer the same question and its challenge: “Where you from, homie?” When the question comes from someone in a gang, it is about much more than geography. It is a way of asking, “What will you kill for, and who will you die for?” It asks, “Who have you hurt, and who has hurt you?”

The answer from William is a short biography: “I don’t bang.” It is quicker than saying, “I have a job at WLCAC. I’m saving to buy equipment for a production company. I’d like to buy a home and finish raising my 7-year-old sister. I want her childhood to be better than mine.”


The Watts Labor Community Action Center is a place to get questions answered and needs met. When William needed work, he found it here. When he needed a place to stay, one of the staff members opened her home. He has worked as youth coordinator, and has polished floors and helped paint a room to honor former Black Panther Geronimo Pratt.

“Up here this is Cheers,” he says. “where everybody knows my name.”

To get there from where he lives, he must pass territory claimed by men and boys who have turned their weapons on each other. Standing 6-foot-5, William is often challenged.

One day last July, William is on his way to work. He is confronted by a gang member, and the question comes up again. He gives his stock answer and tries to walk away. The answer is not enough. One of the man’s homies snickers. The man grabs William by the shoulder. They begin fighting.

Then the gun appears.

It is next to William’s head. “[If you] hit the homie again,” the man with his finger on the trigger says, “I’ma [kill] your bitch ass.”

William drops the shovel he has armed himself with and heads through the cluster of gangsters back home to clean up the blood. He is angry at himself for becoming so angry. He is angry at the one demanding an answer.

“All I’m asking is if you see me, you confront me, and I tell you honestly, ‘I’m not from nowhere, homie, I don’t bang,’ respect that. I’ma respect you in your hood. I’ma respect every clause and bylaw that go on. I’m not trying to get caught up in no in-between bs.”



THE KILLING DID NOT STOP WHEN summer ended. Most of those killed last year were men or boys; 58 were African American, 17 Latino. Police have determined that at least 42 are gang-related. The why of such killings is rarely explored publicly. “Gang-related” does not explain why a gunman pulls the trigger.

The mind listening to a news story of a gang-related killing with no motive given may fill the gap with a hazy understanding, that’s what gangs do.

Maybe it is easier to read a story in this manner than to ask one question that may lead to endless others: Why violence? Why poor schools? Why drugs? Why inequities? Why that community? Until history comes crashing down to give an accounting.


IMAGINE LIVING IN A COMMUNITY best known for its dead and wounded. If you come from here, you know there is much more: those who plant gardens, fix loose bicycle seats and look out for neighborhood children, those who pay respect to the dead by working hard to keep this community alive; body and soul.

If someone asks you to talk about the place you come from, they are the ones you think of: the ones altering the landscape, the ones holding up the sky.


About Southeast...

Crime in Southeast Police Division

Number of homicides in 1998: 38

Forcible rape and attempted rape: 86

Aggravated assault: 2,712

Robberies and attempted robberies: 1,079


Crime in West Los Angeles Police Division

Number of homicides in 1998: 5

Forcible rape and attempted rape: 48

Aggravated assault: 704

Robberies and attempted robberies: 441


Education in Southeast

Total school enrollment in the year 2000: 26,076

Racial groups: 64.1% Hispanic, 35.1% African American, 0.4% Asian/Pacific

Islander, 0.2% Caucasian, 0.1%

Native American

Teachers with emergency or waivered credentials: 32.6%

Students eligible for subsidized school lunches: 84.5%

Dropout rate per year: 10.2%


Los Angeles Unified School District

Total school enrollment in the year 2000: 710,007

Racial groups: 69.9% Hispanic, 13.2% African American, 10.2% Caucasian, 6.5% Asian/Pacific Islander, 0.3% Native American


Teachers with emergency or waivered credentials: 23.5%

Students eligible for subsidized school lunches: 72.4%

Dropout rate per year: 5.9%


Southeast area, estimated for the year 2000

(based on ZIP Codes 90002, 90003, 90044, 90059, 90061, 90247 and 90248)

Churches/Synagogues: 643

Liquor stores: 61

Auto body shops: 92

Gap/Gap Kids: 0

Starbucks: 0

Blockbuster: 1

Median household income: $29,939


West L.A. area, estimated for the year 2000

(based on ZIP Codes 90024, 90025, 90034, 90035, 90049, 90064, 90067, 90077 and 90272)

Churches/Synagogues: 106

Liquor stores: 24

Auto body shops: 44

Gap/Gap Kids: 6

Starbucks: 20

Blockbuster: 7

Median household income: $80,640


Southeast area demographics

(1990 versus estimated 2000)

Population: 287,238/303,502

Median age: 27/28

African American population: 145,673/130,305

People of Hispanic origin: 116,223/170,070

The Victims

a list of those killed in southeast from jan. 1 to dec. 22, 2000

1. James Edwards, male, black, 64 years old

2. Ramon Beltran, male, Latino, 42

3. Darrell Hardaway, male, black, 31

4. Perry Herod, male, black, 29

5. Ronald Taylor, male, black, 31

6. Thomas Brown, male, black, 19

7. Ivan Serrano, male, Latino, 23

8. Vincent Wooden, male, black, 34

9. Geraldine Martin, female, white, 70

10. Eric Grant, male, black, 18

11. Yvonne Gilmore, female, black, 29

12. Anthony Smith, male, black, 20

13. Kerson Vaughn, male, black, 23

14. Roy Snear, male, black, 21

15. Talebe Kalba, male, black, 15

16. Eric Reed, male, black, 29

17. Marvin Johnson, male, black, 21

18. Deangelo Anderson, male, black, 17

19. Dennis Evans, male, black, 22

20. DeBoris Price, male, black, 30

21. Alfred Kirk, male, black, 45

22. Aubrey Childress, male, black, 59

23. Lovell Love, male, black, 28

24. Urbano Santos, male, black, 36

25. Hawley Rutherford, male, black, 34

26. Dionta Clark, male, black, 16

27. Terry Wright, male, black, 19

28. Jovan Jackson, male, black, 18

29. Jose Hernandez, male, Latino, 31

30. Monee Misheaux, male, black, 29

31. Jaimie Cervantes, male, black, 43

32. Jamar Jones, male, black, 16

33. Herschel Watkins, male, black, 27

34. Len Breazeale, male, black, 30

35. Kenny Smalley, male, black, 15

36. Levester Dowden, male, black, 59

37. Jose Otero, male, Latino, 16

38. Avery Roberts, male, black, 20

39. Tinna Robinson, female, black, 20

40. Michael Dees, male, black, 33

41. Thomas Flanagan, male, black, 25

42. Miguel Hernandez, male, Latino, 20

43. Christopher Holts, male, black, 16

44. Jonathan Willis, male, black, 20

45. Charles Benn, male, black, 15

46. Francisco Corona, male, Latino, 17

47. Luis Deloa, male, Latino, 20

48. Stephen Allison, male, black, 41

49. Arthur Brown, male, black, 28

50. Michael Hayes, male, black, 37

51. Robert Rocha, male, Latino, 43

52. Gilberto Valle, male, Latino, 25

53. Carl Bluett, male, black, 46

54. Alvaro Lopez, male, Latino, 50

55. Juan Cruz, male, Latino, 19

56. Sarah Reddic, female, black, 23

57. Gregory Oard, male, black, 21

58. Juan Macias, male, Latino, 21

59. Ray Howard, male, black, 48

60. Warren Denson, male, black, 56

61. Kevin Lenaris, male, black, 21

62. Samuel Threat, male, black, 44

63. Verlis Swan, male, black, 38

64. Antonio Cortez, male, Latino, 23

65. April Kamzik, female, Latino, 21

66. Robert Moore, male, black, 50

67. Lee Kirk, male, black, 43

68. Tyrone Durio, male, black, 31

69. Kenneth Butler, male, black, 47

70. Efrain Flores, male, Latino, 18

71. Lewis Jackson, male, black, 35

72. Greg Devonport, male, black, 31

73. Luiz Argeta, male, Latino, 26

74. Abel Grijalva, male, Latino, 25

75. Kiyonti Gregory, male, black, 19

76. James Hopes, male, black, 64


Where to call for help: Loved Ones of Homicide Victims, (323) 777-7788, is a 24-hour support group hotline; Drop a Dime on Crime, (323) 789-2760, is the Southeast Division’s tip line.


Compiled by Connie Sung, Leilah Bernstein, Doug Smith, Joan Wolff. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Claritas Inc., infoUSA, California Department of Education