The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Los Angeles:
Two weeks, 28 dead

Mar 17, 2008

On the evening of March 1, Jamiel Shaw, 17, a star on his high school football team, was standing near his house talking on a cell phone, when two reputed gang members pulled up in a car and asked him if he belonged to a gang. When Shaw didn’t answer, they shot and killed him. His mother, Army Sergeant Anita Shaw, on her second tour in Iraq, was flown home for the funeral. She went from one war zone to another. This was only one of 28 shot over a two-week period in late February in Los Angeles.

On February 21 a man was walking with his 2-year old granddaughter when reputed members of the infamous Avenues gang opened fire, shooting him 17 times. Ten blocks away, police and gang members engaged in a long gun battle, leaving one wounded and one dead.

On the afternoon of February 27, a gunman opened fire at a busy bus stop, shooting five children and three adults – luckily none fatally.

On March 4, suspected Latino gang members fired into an SUV carrying six black people, one of whom was a six-year-old who remains hospitalized in critical condition. The local Latino gang has strong ties to the prison-based Mexican Mafia, and has carried out an open campaign of terror and ethnic cleansing against black people.

These awful shootings put the lie to all the boasts of LAPD officials and top politicians over the last five years about how they had brought crime down, especially violent crime. On the contrary, the violent gangs have continued to grow and flourish in the vast, impoverished neighborhoods in large parts of Los Angeles, where they push drugs and carry out turf wars.

Most of the time the news media doesn’t even report on the shootings. When it does, the news always highlights the calls for more police, patrols, gang sweeps, gang injunctions – that is, a total reliance on police measures that have not only proved ineffective against the gangs, but often victimize ordinary people in the neighborhood, making the situation even worse.

Of course, there is no mystery or question about what measures actually get rid of gangs and violent crime: plentiful jobs that pay decent wages, good schools, good after-school programs – that is, positive programs that address the needs of the population, especially the young people. Of course, such programs are exactly what is cut – supposedly because there is no money.

To get what is needed working people must mobilize and fight against all those who say the city can’t afford it, especially against those lying and thieving officials who serve the interests of big business and the wealthy.