Seventeen-year-old Michelle Lozano, whose naked body was dumped on the side of the freeway, was laid to rest on Friday, May 6; one day later, across town, shots rang out in Glassell Park and claimed the life of another teenager, Jose Antonio Madera, while a second victim is in critical condition.
While the Los Angeles Police Departments boasts the lowest crime rate per capita since the 1950s, families and communities continue to suffer the senseless violence that motivates local peace activists to rally their communities to take a stand against gangs, crime and violence.
Lozano, a Lincoln Heights resident, lived on the second floor of La Fortuna Market on Griffin Avenue, which was also the site of an armed robbery on April 23—two days before her body was discovered wrapped in plastic near the State Street exit of the Golden State Freeway. Police have not confirmed a connection between the robbery and her death.
LAPD Hollenbeck Station Detectives are still investigating her murder, and while the authorities say they have leads, little information has been made public. As of Tuesday, her cause of death had not been determined, Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the coroner’s office told EGP.
Richard Mangaser, of No Youth Left Out (NYLO) based in Lincoln Heights, organized a vigil in her memory that drew 400 people. Lozano was not the type of teenage girl that “goes around looking for trouble,” he told EGP, adding that a Peace March in the Lincoln Heights area was being planned.
On May 7, Jose Antonio Madera, 19, was fatally shot in Glassell Park, a second victim, whose name was withheld by police, was hospitalized in critical condition with multiple bullet wounds to his upper body and head. The shooting is under investigation by the Northeast LAPD substation, no arrests were immediately made.
While the tragic stories, bloodied sidewalks, and tear-stained faces of grieving family members repeat time and again, there are efforts underway to reclaim the streets and offer young people an alternative opportunity for betterment—or empowerment for a better tomorrow, as the organizers of the Peace in the Northeast Community March & Resource Fair would say.
This Saturday, the march and the resource fair will take place; it is now in it’s fourth year. Organizers acknowledge that crime is down but there is still fear that it can easily erupt again, Dr. Stan Moore told EGP on Monday.
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Gun buy-back programs, police raids on the Drew Street gang, LAPD Northeast Division’s youth boxing program, Basketball at the San Fernando Headquarters, injunctions against 5 local gangs; gang intervention programs like the Children’s Hospital L.A.’s GYRD program; Summer Night Lights at more City Recreation Centers, and, the annual Peace in the Northeast marches—are all examples of efforts that have helped reduce crime, Moore wrote in an email.
“[But] We have many students who are facing daily recruitment from gangs—and may respond to the pressures if we do not march,” Moore said, noting that many of those stories are told first hand during Peace Inc. meetings. Peace Inc., is a combination of Joe Carmona’s Peace Warriors and Peace Parents, the grass roots organization that provides moral support for youth and families dealing with gang violence.
“Somehow we have to convince students at all levels that you do not kill someone because he or she is from Atwater and not Cypress Park, or that someone likes the Giants baseball team and not the Dodgers,” Moore said, making reference to the brutal attack of a Giants’ fan Bryan Stow during the Dodger’s opening game in March.
Stow’s family has been invited to speak at the opening rally for the March. Stow could be taken off life support this week, Moore said.
Moore and the organizing committee, composed of numerous neighborhood councils, faith-based organizations, and local gang intervention groups, invite the public to march with them this Saturday.
Assembly for the march will begin at 10 a.m. at the Glassell Park Senior Center (located at Verdugo and Eagle Rock Blvd.), and brief speeches by local elected officials and police will begin at 10:30 am. Families of victims of violence are also scheduled to share their stories.
The three-mile march will begin moving south on Verdugo at 10:45 am, west on Ave. 33, east on Cypress Ave., and then northbound on Jeffries Ave. onto the Florence Nightingale Middle School (3311 N. Figueroa St) campus at around 11:45am.
Bus transportation to the Glassell Park Senior Center at 9:30 am, and from Nightingale Middle School after the march at 3:30pm will be available at: Irving Middle School and Fletcher Elementary School; Franklin High School; and Luther Burbank Middle School.
The resource fair will take place toward the rear of the school at Jeffries Avenue, and includes free food, 33 tables with local resource organization information, and live entertainment. NBA player Al-Farouq will give a basketball demonstration and share tips. A kid’s zone for children age 6 and under will also be available.
For more information contact Ben Castro at (323) 258-7878.