Lights on at LA parks to curb violence
United Press International
Published: July 12, 2009 at 3:45 PM
LOS ANGELES, July 12 (UPI) — The lights are being kept on later into the night at 16 Los Angeles parks to try to curb gang violence, an organizer says.
The Rev. Jeff Carr, head of the Summer Night Lights program, said keeping park lights on until midnight in some of the city’s rougher areas should be paired with increased community attempts to battle gang problems, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.
“These neighborhoods with gang problems don’t have a lot of assets,” Carr said. “But there is a school, a park and a rec center. Those are public assets. Let’s use those to create social connections that replace gangs.”
The park lights program began in 2008 at eight Los Angeles parks. Police crime statistics show gang-related violence around those parks dropped 17 percent in 2008, while the number of area homicides fell 86 percent.
Carr told the Times gang members are still welcome in the parks, so long as they do not instigate violence.
“You can rewrite the narrative of your life and your neighborhood,” he said. “A gang affiliation is not your whole identity. You’re also a part of this community.”