Northeast to Host Second Annual Peace March

As LAPD crime numbers depict a slowdown in violence, organizers hope residents will see that being involved works.

By Paul Aranda Jr., EGP Staff Writer

On Saturday morning, residents and organizations in Northeast Los Angeles will gather for a second annual peace march. The “Peace in the Northeast March and Resource Fair” will return on June 13 with a new location in Cypress Park.

Marchers will gather at Sycamore Grove Park, located at 4702 N. Figueroa Street, at 10 a.m. Following a series of speeches by selected guests, participants will proceed along the designated route to El Rio de Los Angeles Park, located at 1900 N. San Fernando Road.

The peace march is a follow up to one held last summer in Highland Park. Police estimated that between two to three thousand people attended the event. Organizers shifted the location of the march to Cypress Park as part of an overall strategy to host the event in every community of Northeast Los Angeles.

Whereas last year organizers primarily looked to generate a large turnout, this year they hope to promote more involvement in community-based efforts to counter the perception of the northeast as a center for crime activity.

In 2008, a series of high-profile murders thrust the area into the city’s spotlight. A string of violence concluded with an incident that placed law enforcement officers in the same place as the residents they are assigned to protect.

In the early morning of Aug 2, 2008, just two weeks before the first peace march, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Abel Escalante was killed in front of his parent’s Cypress Park home. The incident was part of a surge in violence in the area that has since seemed to have leveled off, at least according to the official numbers calculated by the Los Angeles Police Department, (LAPD). According to the department’s year-to-date (YTD) crime statistics, overall crime in the local area has decreased in 2009.

In his June electronic newsletter, LAPD Capt. Bill Murphy stated that the Northeast area ranks first in crime reduction citywide. Between Jan 1, 2009 and May 20, 2009 there have been eight reported murders, down from the 16 reported for the same period in 2008.

As a member of the LAPD’s Northeast Clergy Council, Pastor Randy Carrillo said the reduced crime numbers reflect the momentum community members have made in reclaiming their neighborhoods.

Carrillo said the recent drop in crime should not hide the fact that there is still work needed in regards to gang violence.

“Even one murder is too much,” he said. “Those eight families are devastated.”

Carrillo said church leaders are negotiating with gang members to lay down their weapons for a period of 90 days.
While the initial focus of the march was aimed at preventing violence, Carrillo said the new focus is on community participation. In addition to his efforts with the Northeast Clergy Council, Carrillo leads a broader coalition of religious leaders, the Churches of the Northeast. This coalition collaborates with various community-based organizations to sponsor and participate in events throughout the year.

“We need to get the churches out of their buildings and into their communities,” Carrillo said. “Church members have a lot of faith,” he said. “We need to turn that faith into action.”

Carrillo cites the activities of local residents like Maggie Godoy as examples. Since the conclusion of last summer’s march, Godoy has helped launch several volunteer initiatives, including Burning Calories and Crime (BCC), a network of volunteers who conduct foot patrols around local schools. Recently Godoy collaborated with a local church to operate a free after school program. Godoy hopes the second edition of the peace march inspires more community involvement with ongoing volunteer efforts or the creation of new ones.

“I challenge more churches to open their doors for the kids this summer,” Godoy said.

Carrillo said the coalition is in negotiations with several churches that have expressed interest in operating after school programs.

In less than one year, the march has quickly become a high-profile collaboration between local community groups and local elected officials. In total, representatives from the Mayor’s office, three City Councilmembers, three State Assemblymembers and at least five different Neighborhood Councils have been active in the planning process, Godoy said.

“It’s beautiful and a blessing the way all the staffs have been working with the community,” Godoy said.

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June 11, 2009  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

Comments

2 Responses to “Northeast to Host Second Annual Peace March”

  1. Susan Rocha on June 12th, 2009 7:03 am

    You need to check your dates. Aug 2009 is not even here yet. That killing was Aug 2008.

    And, you do not mention the shooting that happened during last year’s peace march. And, you do not mention another killing at Cypress Park during the Cindo De Mayo Carnival this year.

    So, this event is just so all the public officials can have a “photo op”.

    And, church officials should have some respect and give tax payers and residents peace and quiet and not loud amplied sound systems.

  2. galvarez on June 12th, 2009 9:59 am

    Editor’s Note: You are right car2532002, the shooting was in 2008 and we slipped up in the editing process.
    Yes, there have been more tragic killings, but the Northeast Div. of the LAPD is reporting a drop in homicides and crime overall. Organizers of the Peace March on Saturday, hope to keep attention on the issue to reduce those numbers even further, and to encourage people to become more involved in their community. We wish them success.

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