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Newsflash: Latino Gangs Do Have Brains — and Hope

LatinaLista — In a previous posting, I spoke about the sad situation in a Los Angeles-area community where Latino on black crime and intimidation was so rampant that a 14-year-old black girl was gunned down by two Latino gang members simply because of the color of her skin.

Now comes word that a truce has been brokered with this gang and they’re willing to live in peace if  they get a rec center!

Of course, that’s not all but it strikes me as pretty sad, and testament to the fact, that those areas of the city that are considered primarily low-income and minority populated, are the ones that are routinely neglected by city officials.

Gang members of the 204th Street gang in Harbor Gateway sat down with the director of Project Islamic Hope, Najee Ali, and agreed to stop tormenting the black residents of the area if their demands were met.

Project Islamic Hope Director, Najee Ali, stirs a crowd to action.

For these young Latinos, whom everyone perceives as committing totally selfish actions, their demands are surprising:

The truce, negotiated Monday night between gang members and Project Islamic Hope director Najee Ali, calls for politicians and community members to focus on creating jobs, developing a youth mentoring program, building a recreation center and steering working families rather than more unemployed people to subsidized low-income housing.

The truce will be signed tomorrow in front of a market in the community that blacks had been afraid to shop at because of Latino gang members. After the signing, the gang members and members of the neighborhood black community plan to walk through the streets of the area together in a symbolic gesture of unity.

“The most important thing was they indicated that they would definitely call for an end to the racial violence and they want the community to know they are sincere and their message is directed at the city officials who they feel are trying to scapegoat them for a gang problem that they didn’t create,” Ali said.

Though it’s a little hard to believe that the gang members thought up all these demands by themselves, it’s not hard to believe that they would want to have these opportunities made available to them and their families.

It’s not unusual, in fact, it’s more of the norm, for low-income, minority dominant sections of cities to be the lowest priority when it comes to city maintenance, new school facilities, economic development and community programs.

It’s always been accepted that the better parts of towns get these very things without trying too hard because the residents of those areas are somehow seen to be paying more to deserve such services.

Whether it’s because they pay higher taxes or because of their higher income levels, people who are considered to have money live in areas where there are paved roads, polite policemen and quick city responses to everything from filling large street potholes to picking up stray dogs.

Yet, the areas of town that need the infusion of jobs, community programs and the city’s attention are the ones routinely lowest on the totem pole of city priorities, and the highest in crime.

It doesn’t take much to connect the dots here.

It just takes determination to set change in motion.

Here’s hoping 204th Street gang lives up to their potential.

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