Latino gang in Harbor Gateway agrees to truce

Originally published Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Updated Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New, 1:45 p.m. Negotiations for a cease fire between blacks and Latino gang members come on the heels of racially motivated killings.

By Larry Altman
Staff writer

A Latino gang has agreed to a cease fire to end violence in Harbor Gateway and allow blacks or members of any other ethnic group to walk and shop freely without fear, representatives of the gang and black community said today.

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.

Gang members also hope their agreement to end the violence will eliminate the need for a gang injunction that would prohibit many of their activities.
“The reason why we are coming up with a truce is we realize a truce will get the community what it needs,” said Jonathan O’Gorman, a 16-year member of a Latino gang based on 204th Street.

“If there is no truce, we won’t get a rec center. We won’t get the things on our agenda. We are willing to make sacrifices.”

The truce comes in the aftermath of years of intimidating violence that most recently has resulted in the slayings of a 14-year-old black girl and a 34-year-old Latino chef. Neither had any connection to gangs.

Ali said an agreement will be signed Thursday outside a market that blacks do not patronize because they are afraid to walk there. Latinos and blacks plan to walk together in unity through the community following the signing.

“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.

The treaty comes following the Dec. 15 killing of 14-year-old Cheryl Green at 206th Street and Harvard Boulevard. Cheryl’s slaying — deemed a hate crime by authorities — resulted in several marches against violence, calls for a gang injunction and a police crackdown on gang members as they searched for her killers.

The middle school student was killed, police and prosecutors said, because she was black and standing on the invisible border that separates a primarily Latino neighborhood north of 206th Street with a primarily black neighborhood to the south.

Two Latino gang members are facing murder charges in her killing. In the Dec. 5 shooting death of Arturo Mercado Ponce, no arrests have been made.

City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who represents the area, was in a council meeting today and could not be immediately reached for comment.

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