In Brazil’s Favelas, murder is the leading cause of death for 10-year-olds. In these urban Barrios, police patrol in helicopter gunships. Any ideas of crime prevention gave way to “just contain it”. At night the street children hide from both rogue cops and gang members; the well-to-do living near-by venture from their fortified homes only in armored vehicles. In the midst of Rio de Janeiro’s splendor portrayed to the world in those vacation packages and glamour movies, the Favelas are a tipping point – on the way to joining Somalia’s Mogadishu ("THE MOG") as a failed ferocious city, engulfed by gangs and a dysfunctional society.
Could Los Angeles be headed down this road?
The hot spots of underclass Los Angeles, if continued to be ignored, will methasize and will eventually pose an immense danger to the region as a whole.
L.A.’s hot zones are tiny, intensely dangerous areas where nothing works, where law has broken down and mainstream institutions simply have failed their residents. There is places where mail-carriers, meter-readers, paramedics and firefighters are hesitant to enter, and when police officers go in, it is only when heavily reinforced and supported by the Ghetto Birds.
These hot zones are to be found in and near public housing projects – like in Jordan Downs, for instance, where one of three gang-dominated housing projects in Watts, the predominantly Black gang the GRAPE STREET CRIPS are routinely involved in beatings of Latinos and other residents, as well as engaging in home-invasion robberies, and have been known to murder anyone who dares to report their activities.
When the police set up a kiosk in the projects to quell rising crime, the gangs blew it up: the LAPD left and did not set up again in the projects for more than a decade. In the Ramona Gardens (BIG HAZARD) Housing Projects, the last 3 Black families didn’t survive long enough to suffer the perpetual abuse that residents in Jordan downs have endured: Latino gangsters fire-bombed them out of their units.
The schools near and around these hot zones have an average of 70% drop out rate, lock-downs occur regularly due to violence. Young children and teens stress-disorder levels are as high as those who come from here escaping civil-war-torn countries. The neighborhoods are host to hundreds of prison-brutalized men whom are wed to a life-style of destruction; ex-cons who brave to change must defy a dehumanizing system that drags up to 70% of them back to the jaws of prison. All face a relentless search-and-destroy policing policy, and with job prospects virtually non-existent for a man with a record, and with few other exit ramps available from the prison-parole turn-around wheel, escape from the life is futile to most.
But what is to be done?
While most would agree that the street gangs pose a terrible menace to law-abiding residents, it is a deadly error to confuse them with the root cause. They are merely the toxic byproducts of malignant poverty depravation that we as a society do not as yet have a will to end. Our leaders ignore this uglier L.A. they waste time on debating and enacting small and isolated programs in middle-class neighborhoods, far away from the real hot zones and void of real strategic solutions encompassing educational services, job creation and job training, true community policing much needed to stem the violence.
On a real controversial “solution”, the City of L.A. stepped up the use of injunctions and mass evictions when a City Judge ordered the eviction of all tenants from a complex on 69th and Main Streets that the EAST COAST CRIPS Black gang had used a their main hang-out for the good part of 2 decades.
But these type strategies however welcomed by some, will not be enough. L.A.’s hot zones require radical remedies with a scaled up vision, and a sustained investment, not to mention a level of leadership, which currently does not exist. In the end, remedies that attack symptoms but leave root causes intact do nothing at all for the communities.
Eviction, if it is done, must be a last resort, and it must include full compensation, including money for relocation.
We must build a city that does not leave our children to be preyed on by predators; we must build a city where any Gangster can exit “La Vida Loca” and live.
LET’S GET RADICAL – END THE WARFARE – EDUCATE YOURSELF & LIVE, or join Rio’s trajectory towards Mogadishu.
THE CHOICE IS WITHIN YOU HOMEBOY.