Compton city officials, residents rally to ‘Take Back Our City’
‘I don’t want to live the myth about Compton…roll up your window and drive through quickly.'–Councilmember Janna Zurita By BILL BRITT, Contributing writer COMPTON – When one-year-old Autumn’s life ended at the impact of a single bullet
‘I don’t want to live the myth about Compton…roll up your window and drive through quickly.’–Councilmember Janna Zurita
By BILL BRITT, Contributing writer
COMPTON – When one-year-old Autumn’s life ended at the impact of a single bullet in a drive-by shooting just over three months ago, she wasn’t the target and she wasn’t the sole victim. Her grandfather was one of several relatives of fatal gunshot victims expressing loss and frustration Thursday night at a “Compton Watch: Take Back Our City” rally in Gonzalez Park.
“I understand that no one wants to rat anyone out,” he said, preferring to not give his name but proudly displaying a small button with Autumn’s face on it. “But if we don’t get parents to talk with their children, their friends or anyone they know who’s involved with this [violence] then I don’t see how we’ll ever come up with a solution here.”
Dozens of law enforcement officers, community activists, and faith-based leaders joined city officials to discuss proposed solutions and share their frustrations with nearly 100 residents and community leaders who attended the rally.
Compton City Council Mayor Pro-Tem Janna Zurita and Councilmember Tana McCoy organized the event after a spate of shootings this month sent the murder rate soaring to what Zurita calls “an unacceptable” height. There have been 11 homicides in Compton so far this year, more than twice the fatalities at the same time last year.
“That’s far too many murders and definitely too many victims,” Zurita said. She pointed out that while the city works with law enforcement agencies to find ways to deter crime and encourage witnesses to come forward, one deterrent that’s already in place needs to be strengthened.
“We need to update our [surveillance] cameras. We don’t even have the basic information on which cameras are actually working, and we need to have a way of monitoring and updating them.”
“There are a lot of good things happening in our city,” McCoy told the packed room at the park’s community center. “Our graduation rates are up and the [soon-to-be-completed] Brickyard is bringing jobs to Compton.” But, she added, “until we address and solve this violence it will be hard to get the message out about how Compton is turning around.”
As for solutions that go beyond monitoring surveillance cameras, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lt. Laura Lecrivain agrees with Autumn’s grandfather who insists community cooperation with law enforcement is the key.
“We understand there are intimidation issues,” says Lt. Lecrivain. “We want residents to know there are other alternatives to contacting us. We can talk on the phone. We don’t have to come to their homes. We want this to be a community where people feel safe to walk their dogs, to run and let their kids play in the front yard. That’s our vision for Compton.”
Zurita, a Compton native with a 10-year old daughter and two senior parents, couldn’t agree more. “I don’t want to live the myth that a lot of people have about Compton. You know, roll up your window and drive through this city quickly. I don’t want that to be the reality. Coming here today is how we stick together. It’s the only way we’re going to get anything done.”