#100days100nights fuels fear in South L.A.
Sandy Banks | Los Angeles Times
July 31, 2015
“I’ve been in prison, and I’ve never been as nervous as I am right now,” a middle-aged man in a baseball cap admitted to the crowd gathered for a community meeting Wednesday night — one he’d almost been too afraid to attend.
A summer spike in gang violence is nothing new in this neighborhood near Manchester and Vermont: Days are hot, tempers are short and troubles tend to brew among aimless young men with nothing constructive to do.
But a recent flurry of gang shootings has unsettled residents. And social media posts that seem to promise 100 gang killings in 100 days have turned the temperature up.
Police officials and gang intervention workers are trying to debunk the missives, confident they are nothing more than pranks, odes to dead gangbangers or cyberposturing.
“The idea of ‘100 days’ is to intimidate,” Ben “Taco” Owens told the meeting of the Southern California Cease Fire Committee. “It’s a mental game, like psychological warfare.”
If so, the terrorists may be winning.
In a community where so many families have been touched by violence, it’s easy to believe that anyone can be a target.
Residents have heard rumors of children being fired upon. When a young man was shot dead two weeks ago, photos of his body sprawled on a sidewalk were posted on Instagram. A peace march last weekend had barely ended when a 47-year-old man was killed nearby.
“A lot of us thought we had moved past some of this stuff,” said James Harris, 52, one of dozens of former gang members trying to mediate. “To be revisiting it now, it’s kind of disheartening.”
Social lives have stalled, children are kept inside, birthday parties have been canceled and family reunions called off. Nonprofits in the area have warned employees to be extra careful in certain neighborhoods. Some residents are avoiding big gatherings and busy parks.