Echo Park man at a loss about how to fight neighborhood crime

Colton and Douglas Streets, Echo Park

The section of Echo Park south of Temple Street is packed with homes and apartments within walking distance of the Echo Park Library, indoor municipal pool, recreation center and the playing fields and walking trails of Vista Hermosa Park.  Despite the many public amenities, this neighborhood can  also be filled with crime, tagging and gunfire as a 37-year-old community organizer and relatively new resident has discovered. On Sunday night, police deployed several squad cars and a helicopter in response to the sound of gunfire near Douglas and Court streets followed by a report of three men in dark clothing running north to Temple Street. Police did not find any suspects, according to the Rampart Division, but the incident was the most recent to raise concern about crime in the neighborhood.

Last month, two separate assaults with a deadly weapon – on the 1200 block  of Colton and on Firmin Street near Temple – took place in the immediate area, according to CrimeMapping.com. Meanwhile, tagging and gang crossouts have been on the increase, with taggers quick to spray paint walls following the departure of clean up crews.  Police may have not been able to find evidence of a shooting on Sunday night, but neighbors near Colton and Douglas  discovered where a bullet had dented the side of a parked car, a photo of which was emailed to The Eastsider.

Somebody suggested that the community organizer, who has lived in this section of Echo Park for more than a year, to move out.  But he refuses to do so. “This is such a wonderful community,” said the man, who did not want his named to be published. “My first instinct is not to move out.”

Car dented by bullet. Photo by Echo Park resident

But he is also not sure what to do about the violence.  More jobs, better schools and additional anti-gang programs would help in the long run,  he said. But what can be done in the short term as summer approaches and more youths are out and about?

“We want folks to be safe – that’s the biggest concern I have at this point,”  he said.  “We just need to be more vigilant coming home.  There is not much else that can be done at this point.”



  1. Gangs don’t seem to understand the preciousness of life. I feel for all of you who wish to live in peace but are surrounded by those who tag and kill.

    • LllThese gang members who really wanted to destroy the peacefulness of one community should be sent to Iraq where there is war and there’s a lot od killings so that they will realize what is the importance of peace. So that they getwhat they deserve

  2. These are the reasons why my family moved out of Echo Park in the early 90’s. I can’t imagine paying half a million for a house there but having to deal with so much ignorance. I truly believe the LAPD needs to bring back CRASH and the freedom that it had.

  3. You’re right, RJ – they don’t understand. Anything that gets in the way of making money, anything that they think doesn’t respect them, anyone that they think isn’t as tough as them – these things are worthless to a gang member and thus worthy of destruction. Look at the article on the Brian Stow beating in the Times today – despite enduring an entire game of insults and getting pelted with food, one comment from Stow opened him up to getting blindsided with a punch (to the side of the head, no less – real tough, huh?) and getting kicked and beaten while unconscious. Another example? Sure, why not. Gang members that graffiti up and terrorize their own neighborhoods. Because everyone needs to see that these guys run the place, despite the fact that the place they run is s shithole that’s a shithole because THEY turned it into one. Not saying EP is a shithole now – far from it – but if they had their druthers, it would be, as long as they ran it. Pathetic.

  4. If the community organizer/resident wants to reach out to youth, as he was concerned about how so many youth are going to keep themselves busy, he might want to find out what parks in the surrounding area are participating in the Summer Night Lights program this year. And he along with other concerned neighbors, if any, can canvas the area with flyers with info on the activities. It won’t solve all the problems but it could prevent youth who are walking the line between trying to do something positive and joining a gang.

  5. Anyone who lives on the Eastside knows gang culture is part of the fabric that makes up these wonderful communities. The question is how to migate it, and work towards a better. The community should get to know their LAPD Lead Officer for the area.

    It saddens me that a community member would suggest for someone to move out. Apathy towards crime is horrible, everyone wants to live in safe clean neighborhoods. We all have to remember that the Eastside has experienced some dramatic highs and lows, we just can’t loose that energy that exist now of creating a sustainable community for the furture.

  6. California National Guard

  7. In Death Wish 3, Charles Bronson fought neighborhood crime with the .475 Wildey Magnum.

  8. Thank you Kitten,

    I agree. The key is gentrification. The best thing to do is have as many of your friends move to the neighborhood as possible. As you say, there ARE many great amenities to this great neighborhood.

    When my wife and I bought our first place in S. Echo Park, there were a couple infestations of gangs near by. Now they are gone and a nice families moved in.

    When we bought our second place in S.EP, we had a guy next door selling crack from his bedroom window at all hours of the day and night. Now he’s been deported back to Mexico. There were also prostitutes in the neighboring alley. ALL gone!

    It is a slow process but hang in there my brother, it will get better. Gang members are TRULY WEAKER AT HEART! That’s why they join gangs in the first place; fear and insecurity. Just keep doing what you are doing. Invite your friends… we have!

  9. If anyone wants to learn about the sources of and the solutions to violence, I suggest they read the latest Pinker book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature”. It is an authoritative treatise on violence throughout history. It is also very hopeful as it points out that we are in one of the least violent periods in human history. Give it time Echo Park man, violence has been decreasing here in LA and globally for the last 30 years. Unfortunately, the path isn’t a straight line.

  10. Call the police when you see things people. According to others on this forum, they can be evicted if they present a nuisance… I can’t imagine it’s too easy for them to rent a new place in pricey echo park with an eviction on their record.

  11. Move to Highland Park it’s safer and cheaper.

  12. Keeping neighborhood swimming pools open (see earlier Eastside post) is of course a good place to start when looking for alternative activities and places to offer young people who are in the process of building their personalities to those offered by gangsters. But that would entail a painful commitment: building into a community rather than just carving out a piece of it and hoping all the bad will go away. I disagree with the notion that increased gentrification will eventually remove the problem–one nice million dollar home at a time. If you were a kid, seeing this happen to the neighborhood where you grew up and formed your earliest memories, how would you feel? Gentrification is also able to exert pressure that steers kids, whose decisions can be dictated by anger, toward joining gangs. I mean, how ridiculous the notion that crime in a community can only be solved when all the original (read working class brown) people have been relocated.

    • ^original = whites fyi.

      nonetheless, who wants the browns out? We just want the gangs out. I don’t care what ethnicity they are. Don’t make it about race.

      Also, why would the kids be “angry” at gentrification? Are they racist against whites? I for one, have seen a lot of mexican children in my neighborhood wearing skinny jeans and riding fixies… not sure where you live.

    • I understand people like Henry Hawk that want the neighborhood they live in to be cleaned up and safe. But don’t you think that the parents of the children who currently live in the neighborhood want the same? Why can’t you work together with the people from the community who have been longtime residents to create that change?

      • Some parents DO want the same. Unfortunately, many DO NOT because they “can’t” because of the situation they’ve put themselves in… This is the root of the gang issue. Boys looking for leadership and guidance cant get it from a father that is working two jobs to pay for kids he cant afford and should have never had. Or worse yet a single mother.

        Am I for “reaching out”? Sure. But that method is far less effective than gentrification.

        • “If you can’t reach out, kick ’em out” – hanry hawk

        • I disagree, especially because I do not think there has been enough outreach towards youth. Mainly because there aren’t enough age appropriate activities for the youth that need it the most.

          Sounds like you and your friends have a lot more resources then the people you’re pushing out do. An intent to share those resources (resources doesn’t mean money by the way) could cause more than change then you think.

    • Uhm, how long have you been in this area? For one, ‘Satanas’ (Philippino) gang-STS)) has been quite a fixture in our eastside neighborhood for some time now….

      • Umm, how long ago did you learn to read and write? People for the Philippines are called Filipino – with an F, not a Ph. I would think you would know that since you know so much about their gang.

        Anyway, what’s your point? Is the Satanas gang responsible for all the crime in Echo Park or is it Hispanic Gangs? The Satanas must be pretty small because they did not even make it on the LAPD Gang Injunction List (http://atty.lacity.org/our_office/criminaldivision/ganginjunctions/index.htm). Besides, I don’t see anyone from Filipino community defending the actions of their gang members because someone suggested Gentrifying the neighborhood.

    • Martin, I hear you my man. But this kid you are talking about who sees his neighborhood become gentrified actually has a better shot in life. Think if it like this. Would you want your child growing up next door to a successful family with connections that one day may help out or gang members who come poor uneducated families?

      When you play soccer again crappy soccer players you play crap soccer. When you play soccer against great players you play better soccer.

      If the kid gets angry because he sees other people moving into an area, he is angry about diversity. He is angry that people of other walks of life are now living amongst him. This is anger is fear based in ignorance, stupidity, and an insecure self. Teach the kid that fear is the death of the soul, the death of progress, the death and end of mankind and you will do them and our great city a favor. Teach the kid to really know himself and he will no longer care who he lives amongst because he will be free.

      • Well said. Thank you for that. Too many people use the woord gentrification as a mask for their own racism and xenophobia. Diversity helps us all.

      • Are you for real? What New England town did you grow up in? Next time you see a bunch of homies walking late at night through echo park, please explain to them that “fear is the death of their soul”. I’m guessing at best, you will get a beating.

        • I would expect this from the same guy that said, “I’m guessing the bullet wasn’t very deadly if it only dented the car?!?”

          Im from Los Angeles. But your New England comment is so unbelievably telling of your intelligence level that I pray you can even read my response without a friend helping you phonetically pronounce the words out loud.

          If you stay stupid you will never grow. And if you encourage ignorance to stay the norm then your neighbors will never grow. I can’t wait to price you out of this neighborhood so you and your ignorance can be a blight on someone else’s comment section.

          • Actually, i had a group of friends help me sound out my comment. When we add up all our IQ’s, it exceeds 300 (6 x 55) making me the smartest person alive!

            You can’t wait to price me out of the neighborhood? Why don’t you tell that to the homies the next time you see them. I bet they will love how your self righteous ignorant self thinks you know the answers to crime and violence in Echo Park because you took a cultural diversity class at the local community college. Maybe you should let some of them move in with you. I bet a positive role model like yourself will work wonders.

          • You don’t even know how to respond with logic. Your brain is failing you so hard that your comments don’t even accurately respond to what I said. Now why don’t you go back and play with the children while the adults have adult conversations.

          • re: “I can’t wait to price you out of this neighborhood …”

            That attitude is precisely what makes you so repugnant. Cite facts all day long about crime stats – but your contempt and cavalier tone speaks volumes, Kittenface.

          • Unfortunately, my failing illogical brain can’t comprehend where the logic is in your last comment.

            But fortunately, I am not so idiotic and delusional to think that poor, working class minorities living in single parent families will all live in peace and harmony because a white, middle class, 3rd generation American told them that “fear is the death of the soul”. And I am certainly not hiding my racism behind classist statements like, “I can’t wait to price you out of this neighorhood…” because that only make the ILLOGICAL assumption that compared to you, I am poor and stupid – I may be rich and stupid and getting ready to make an offer on your 500 sf. shack so I can tear it down and build condos.

            All fighting aside, I do respect your optimism – although misguided. But if the adults all want to talk about puppy dogs and icecream and how free love will solve the violence problems in Los Angeles, than who am I (a mere small child) to argue. After all, our political system is built around gullible fools who believe everything they hear and reject those who tell the truth (give your Obama poster a kiss for me) 😉

  13. bring back the Guardian Angels from the 80’s …the dudes with the red beret

  14. I’m guessing the bullet wasn’t very deadly if it only dented the car?!?

    • Um, pretty much any bullet on a public street – as one hitting a car surely is – is deadly enough. How about this – you stand out in the middle of a drive-by firefight and tell us which poorly-aimed shots are deadly (and therefore to be condemned by the community) and which aren’t. Sound good?

  15. Faux wrote: “…nonetheless, who wants the browns out? We just want the gangs out. I don’t care what ethnicity they are. Don’t make it about race.” Agree.

    Anyone else grow up in this area? Attend school? Have niece living on Corondolet right now? Doesn’t make me God, just someone who has known the area since for past 50 years. T

    There have always been gangs. There are more than in previous years. They are more violent now, commit more homicides and deal in harder (and cheaper) drugs than before. And they live where middle class families once ruled. And the streets were very safe, yards were kept up — no sofas or cheap computer desks left on curbs — not that long ago as the crow flies in terms of straight time.

    Well, sorry to say (to myself) those days won’t return. But improvements can be made. Safety can be improved. Gang members can be moved out and their gangs can be impacted. Then, sorry to say II, they become some other community’s problem.

    I’m all in for crackdowns — on graffitti (can we arrest the idiots painting up the highway signs please? Night vision goggles and a few officers might do it — on tagging, trashing, drunken behavior including Dodger beatings, public urination and upchucking, and rousting out known gang residences.

    Can’t return to beauty of 1965, big sigh to myself, but at least to 1975. That’s just before crack epidemic hit. Big slide began.

    • Well you are right that the big increase in violence started in the seventies. It crested in the early nineties and has been plummeting ever since. We are now back to a homicide rate that Los Angeles hasn’t seen since 1967. So we have a little more work to do to get to your hallowed ’65 but not much.

  16. The reality is that until gentrification spreads north from downtown (the grand avenue and broadway projects will likely need to be completed to spur this) echo park gentrification stops at the 101 and this particular area will remain a crime-infested dump.

  17. I think all taggers that get caught should have their faces spray painted–would you be anxious to run back out to tag if cops did that to you? No. But our dumbass society would then feel sorry for the taggers. I’m not totally serious here, but it does lead me to my next point–Americans have become such pussies–people are so afraid of discipline these days, and this is why our moral fiber is crumbling and will continue to crumble. You think these taggers were ever disciplined by their parents? Probably not. I live in Eagle Rock, where my neighbor’s dogs keep yapping morning, noon, and night. And I keep thinking to myself, “why don’t they discipline those dogs?” And they just don’t care. They seem to have no concept of what it means to contribute to your neighborhood or make it a better place. They just don’t care. Keep crying about the good of the individual and the rights of the individual–at some point people need to wake up and start thinking about the greater good, because a bunch of self-entitled “individuals” eventually leads to anarchy.

    • Very well said.

      We have the same problem down the street from us. WTF? I am boggled by their inconsiderate nature.

  18. Would the 37 yr old please provide contact information on graffiti requests? LAPD has been notified of the many daily requests regarding “headhunters” activity all day long and especially during the hours of 2-4pm. If you provide contact info on the requests that you enter on-line, someone from the contractor’s office will call you to discuss the problem.

  19. Ah liberals how I love you… You live in crappy areas and call the police when you need help and when the police catch the person you called on you feel bad for the scum bag gangster and want him let go because he’s a victim of rough times and society.

  20. I encourage the organizer to attend a talk happening next Friday 7 p.m. at 1226 N Alvarado hosted by Echo Parenting & Education.
    link to flyer http://www.echoparenting.org/wpcontent/uploads/2011/12/paul_lecture_v3.pdf
    Paul Kivel is a noted author, social activist and violence educator and was the co-founder and director of the Oakland Men’s project. “Kivel has been an innovative leader in violence prevention for more than 35 years. He is an accomplished trainer and speaker on men’s issues, racism and diversity, challenges of youth, teen dating and family violence, raising boys to manhood, and the impact of class and power on daily life.
    “Kivel is the author of numerous books and curricula, including Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, which won the 1996 Gustavus Myers Award for best book on human rights, Men’s Work, Making the Peace, Helping Teens Stop Violence, Boys Will Be Men, I Can Make My World A Safer Place, and most recently, You Call This a Democracy?: Who Benefits, Who Pays, and Who Really Decides.”

    • really kim?! You really think we live in a racist society?

      With a black president, and the top 5 most popular celebrities in the country being black or latino? Really?

      Tired of people preaching racism. This is lack of parenting. Not racism.

      • Paul Kivel is a violence educator and the talk is on raising our sons to become leaders in building communities that value compassion, social justice and sustainability. This has everything to do with parenting and educating children.

  21. The day after the shooting occurred in Echo Park, I heard about the fatal shooting of a 14-month old child in Watts allegedly by gang-bangers. As I read the related articles, something that was strikingly familiar- residents of the area pointed out that there has been a six month-long escalation between two rival gangs. If community residents knew about the feud and LAPD had been warned about it too, was there no way of preventing the violence that everyone knew was coming?

    After talking to several of my neighbors, it became apparent that we are in a similar situation- Everyone knows that the neighborhood gang, which hangs out about half a block down in front of a street level apartment and a rival gang from a number of blocks away are going at it. To find out you only have to be semi-proficient in graffiti- as the two seemingly take turns crossing each other out on walls on a daily basis. I am no prophet but this sort of male chest-thumping inevitably ends in gun-shots albeit poorly aimed and errant. I contacted LAPD with my concerns of this escalating situation- and the officer who I spoke to almost knew what I was calling about as he pointed out exactly what house and what characters were involved. They know these guys, their affiliation and even where some of the members who no longer live there have gone (I was told either to jail or the suburbs). Sure enough, days after my call, there was a shooting on that same block.

    This last weekend’s shooting was the second in the past 30 days. It’s amazing how a small group of people are allowed to not only disrupt the lives of the rest of the community members but to put their lives in peril as well. Currently, there is no gang-injunction on this particular group, though the surrounding communities look like a jig-saw puzzle of restrictions.

    The neighborhood is made up mostly of working-class Latino families though it is racially quite diverse. One of the best things is the proximity to the community’s assets- in a one-mile radius, there are various schools, public parks & recreational facilities and a library- making this community a totally pedestrian-friendly place. I understand that all residents have the right to live, work and play here- including the gang kids. However when their behavior starts to endanger the lives of the people around them, then something should be done. Property owners and management companies have a responsibility to act when illegal activities are taking place on their property. Council members and Mayor’s involvement can help shed light and contribute resources. The GRYD program intervention folks should attempt to mediate with between the gangs. LAPD needs to step up surveillance and enforcement of laws in the area.

    But ultimately, I do not believe these issues can be solved by any of these measures alone. Community members need to go through a process of “building community”- perhaps a clean up or town hall meeting to start. I understand the process of gentrification that is taking place in EP- underscoring the importance of building a broad movement that invites diverse members to participate in this “community building process.”

    I put it out there to start the discussion and perhaps reach the ears of people who want to do something to change this situation before any more tragic consequences visit our neighborhood like the tragedy in Watts.

  22. On June 1, 2012, the lovely home that I was born in, built in 1910 and currently my second home, right off of Colton to the South and Council to the North, was vandalized with over $5,000.00 worth of damage. We received an investigative report via mail, due to mandatory Marsy’s rights, that suspects broke a window to enter and spray paint the floors, windows, walls, and appliances. My husband went down to fix the window on June 10 only to discover that a second window was broken, a candle was still burning within the house, all of the food in the cupboards and the refrigerator has been consumed or taken and a pot of beans left on the stove. On June 11, my husband returned from home depot, approximately 2 in the afternoon, only to discover that a third window had been broken with an attempt to gain entry once again in broad daylight. I made a report over the phone with the Rampart police department this evening and was told that several juveniles and adults are breaking in and were caught on June 1, but that the juveniles were let go with a warning and the adults could not be arrested because they needed to have a private person to sign a complaint. I guess the neighbor who made the call didn’t come forward.
    Phyllis Libbe

    • Correction to above: That was $25,000 in vandalism damage, not $5,000 and the street is off of Council, not Colton.

  23. echo park is not beverly hills, san marino, or any other snob hill community. if you choose to live here, don’t complain. and lets not even talk about CRASH. it is no longer in existence, thanks to the corruption created by the rampart police dept. blame them!

  24. Angeleno Heights

    It’s called community awareness. Get to know your neighbors, say hello. Invite them over for a beer. You think it’s bad here, then take the Death Tour on the Westside, more wackos there than here.

  25. Lincoln Heights Resident

    We have the same problem in Lincoln Heights, the problem is getting residents involved to look out for the community, except many don’t want to get involved by reporting crime or simply afraid.

    There was a walk against fear in the beginning of the year for the young lady that was found murdered by the 2 freeway from our community, then residents were upset and blamed police.

    Hundreds of People Showed up BUT that’s all that has happened!?!..
    No other community intervention and they think thats all thats needed to be done when its a daily commitment to take care of a community then 1 walk and that it-

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