Friday, February 29, 2008


By Diana L. Chapman

The day the veteran SWAT officer was shot and killed, he was praised for his years of service – and was noted as the first member of the Los Angeles Police's Special Weapons and Tactics team to ever die in action since the program's inception.

Tears flowed from officers and his family over the Feb. 7 death of Randal Simmons, of Rancho Palos Verdes, who was only 51 when he was shot by a gunman who had already killed three members of his family. The community was devastated by the officer’s loss.

Cops and residents alike – even the mayor of Los Angeles – ran to console the family and hundreds mourned his death. His was the most attended police officer funeral in the history of Los Angeles. Today, (Saturday March 1) Niko’s Pizzeria will give 50 percent of what people purchase at the restaurant from 10 a.m. until midnight to help his grieving family. I am asking you now: Do this -- but do even more than this.

Because what is not being mourned – is the incredible devastation his death will mean to a giant swath of children Randal had steadfastly helped who live in some of the most blighted areas of Los Angeles. He coached them in sports. He became their mentor. He taught them about Jesus. But most of all, he gave them his heart.

More than anything else in the world – when the rest of us would turn and run – this cop was there for those piles of kids no one else wanted to help, kids that lived in the most gang-ridden parts of the city. He knew their names. He knew their troubles. These are kids that we ignore in our own backyard – every single day.

Kids who march home by drug dealers. Kids who get their bikes stolen as part of their daily routine. Kids who get thumped for their money. Kids whose parents are heroine addicts.

Kids – it seems to me – that no one else cares about but a truly heroic man like Officer Simmons and others like him. He knew it was not only his job as a human being, but his duty. Unlike many of us, he walked the talk – no matter what religion, or culture you are from. He lived for humanity and children were a big part of his faith.

The days after his death, I tried to read what the kids said about this man; their grief so evident, so overpowering, I could hardly take the stories. One little girl could barely speak; she did nothing but cry because she said, her life would never be the same.

I know exactly what it means when kids see and feel someone has given them their heart. They know it clearly and powerfully; They know it more than any adult around; then – and only then -- will these injured children trust. This officer's death means a hole has been torn in the heart of children, children whose lives were already shredded and tattered, and now gone was a person they could trust.

Then I began to worry about the officer's son.

As I watched, Matthew, 15, a near carbon copy of his dad, all I could think about was this; He’s likely to try to carry forth this load all alone – the path his father left for him. The path that so many of our youths need; someone who will show them devotedly that they care. People who:

When they say they’ll show, they show.
When they say they care, they mean they care.
When they are needed, they respond.

Wait. Stop here. This is when my girlfriend called me and complained about my article. Why is it, she asked, that everyone is ignoring his 13-year-old daughter, Gabrielle? Having lost her CHP officer husband seven years ago in March to prostate cancer, Debbie Vasquez has raised her son, Jake, without a dad.

She knows the rigors ahead for the family -- the mother, Lisa especially -- and added: "How do we know that the daughter won't go into law enforcement and follow in her Dad's footsteps too? She encouraged me to include the daughter.

I humbly apologized, because I knew she was right. The little voice in the back of my mind told me that and of course, I ignored it. Perhaps both children will follow him -- but even still, it's a giant burden.

What Officer Simmons did is unusual and even more evident at his service was the way it was loaded with seniors, kids and residents of South Los Angeles – who usually are so terrified of police they would sooner turn and run. For this officer, however, they held up signs by the dozens thanking him.

Imagine that. They thanked him – not one or two residents. But hundreds. And they cried for him.

And then I thought, why should this officer’s son, such a young man be left with such an onerous task alone? His father made the choice to not become detached from the hurt and hunger he saw on the streets; He spelled it out so carefully for all of us what we need to do. And it seems to me, he spelled it out for his son and his daughter too.

Yes, take heart. Show up at Niko’s – 399 W. Sixth Street – to help leave his family with funds to send his kids to college and to help them in every way possible.

If you want to thank officer Simmons, then help his son and daughter. Take a look at your own backyard, get out the telephone book, call the schools, call Recreation and Parks, call the Boys and Girls Club, call your local library, your local police department – and figure out what you can do for kids now. Perhaps you can read with a child, teach them music, or just listen to their troubles.

If you find the agencies not interested, keep on trying – because there are thousands upon thousands of kids who don’t need you today or tomorrow. They needed you yesterday. I know myself. I work with these kids every day. Find a way to plug in somehow and help a kid.

And don't be surprised if they live right next door, because all children need help to grow and flourish, no matter where they live. Think of the adults who took the time to help you and then find a way to reach out and give back.

That is the best way you can remember Officer Randal Simmons. Do not let his children carry such a load alone. I’m talking to police officers. Business professionals. School administrators. And anybody else who will listen.

Officer Simmons was doing with his life everyday what we should be all doing. He provided part of the village to help kids grow – especially kids maimed by the very environment that they have to live in.

Like Officer Simmons, give kids your heart. If he was here today, he would likely tell us that giving his heart to kids was something he would always cherish, because it is oddly sweet and fulfilling. And if you follow his path, in a very strange way, you not only will be honoring this hero, you will also help fill those giant shoes left behind for his two children, and his wife, Lisa.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Above right corner, Travor Thompson, a great waiter at 25 Degrees, an upscale hamburger joint, gives us tips and advice while visiting Hollywood. Like most working here, he's an actor waiting for his big chance. Left, Jake decides to pose with Elmo rather that serial killer Jason. Above right, Ryan tries a shot at break dancing.
Not Cheap, But It Can Be a Peculiar Bit of Fun for Teenage Kid’s Birthday—Even When Hanging Out With Pretenders& Funky Crowds; It’s a Place Where the Good, the Weird and the Beautiful Meet Meets the Beautiful
By Diana L. Chapman

My son came home, nearing his 14th birthday, and blurted out how one of his friends went to Hollywood Boulevard for her celebration.
She was allowed, he explained, to bring many friends.
My first thought: Sounds mighty pricey.
My second: Don’t tell me Ryan wants to do that, too?
It must have been a premonition, because more than a month later, we were headed for the land of palm trees and stars with celebrities’ names embedded in the sidewalk.
With eight boys in tow, the biggest problem was keeping them together on walkways packed with milling crowds. A plethora of break dancers, rap singers and colorfully costumed villains and cartoon characters like Sponge Bob speckled the sidewalk – eagerly waiting to make a dime off the hordes of eager tourists.
That would include us.
It can be a bit intimidating when you’re surrounded by evil-doers usually seen in movies, such as “Halloween” serial murderer Jason standing on a box, bloodied machete in hand, ready to swoop onto the first person courageous enough to pose for a photo.
Needless to say, none of our guys was willing to do so.
We did find them a bit more courageous later; Jake decided to pose with Sesame Street’s Elmo, and Ryan had his photo taken with a man painted in silver from head to toe.
In a nutshell, that’s what Hollywood was about on a sweet and simple Saturday afternoon.
After we parked on a side street, we hadn’t walked far when the boys began their stardust adventure with the first and most important statement: “I’m hungry.”
Because my friend Doug had recommended the “best hamburger I’ve ever had” at 25° (25 degrees), an upscale burger joint in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, we dipped in there for lunch.
It proved to be the most expensive attraction of the day, but one even the boys gave a major mark on their scorecards.
When you’re with eight hungry boys, giant burgers are a large plus – even when they cost $9 each, because they were not only big but could be tailor-made to suit individual tastes.
Even the cheeseburgers came with choices, from traditional to about as far out as you can imagine such as Neal’s Yard Cheddar from the British Isles or Midnight Moon, a goat cheese described as light and nutty. Other additions included shitaki mushrooms, fried eggs and arugula.
Most the boys stuck with the familiar toppings—mayo, mustard and ketchup—and not much of the burgers remained on their plates. They unanimously agreed it beat going elsewhere (as it should, with fries going for $4 and milkshakes at $6).
But it was well worth it, especially with our helpful server, Travor Thompson, offering all sorts of tips where to go and what to do. He’d moved here recently from Boston after completing his college degree in acting – and along with his waiter job had scored a few commercial spots here and there.
The best tip he gave us – since we had already decided to see the movie farce “Meet the Spartans” – was to try the Arc Light Theater at the corner of Sunset and Vine, which we did later.
Before that, however, we spent the rest of the afternoon roaming Hollywood Boulevard with rappers pushing their own homemade CDs (“bad songs” was my simple review of the music after listening to loads of cussing after they tell you there is none) and break dancers showing off their gyrating moves on the sidewalk.
Finally, Ryan was brave enough to jump in with one group of dancers and strut his stuff, which turned out to be moving his eyes and face with a minimal bit of footwork—he didn’t try to pull off those brutal spinning-on-the-head moves (thank goodness).
We wound up the evening at the beautiful theater Travor suggested, where a $12 ticket gets you an assigned seat that is roomy and comfortably plush. The movie was horrid, the theater wonderful.
Hollywood. Mix in the good, the bad and, of course, the beautiful.
All of this packed into a day can be a real treat for teenagers who want to be among the stars – even if they don’t recognize most of the names along the sidewalks.
Two boxes of pancake mix, nine hamburgers, seven sodas and two malts later, we were done with our mini-adventure of growing boy meets Hollywood. Only sleep awaited.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


By Diana L. Chapman

188 voices silenced. Forever. No more laughs. No more sighs. There will be tears no more from these victims.
188 faces and their smiles have left no trace -- except perhaps with their loved ones lurking somewhere behind faded and yellow-patched memories. All of them, every single one, were murdered here in our lovely coastal community of San Pedro between 1989 to 2007. Many were killed by gangs. Others were killed in cases of domestic violence.
To honor these lost souls, a peace vigil will be held Thursday, May 15 at 6 p.m., at San Pedro High School -- an event sparked by the shooting death of popular high school football player, LaTerian Tasby, 19, who died in October trying to protect his friends when gang members crashed a party.
Of these 188, 23 listed are children -- ages 1 to 17.
One was a one-year-old-girl named Baby Ochoa. Another was 8-year-old Alba Flores. Others were 15-year-old Vincent Villa and Brenda Garcia, 16. They were just beginning their lives.

About one-third ranged from 18 to 30-years-old, including LaTerian, who unlike the shooting death of Cheryl Green, 14, on a Harbor Gateway street corner over a year ago, didn’t prompt hordes of media attention, politicians screaming for change – or even a candle light vigil. No reward for his killer's capture was posted either.

It didn’t matter that like Cheryl, he too was black, and that he too was allegedly shot by a Hispanic gang – and this might be just another one of these hate crimes Los Angeles has been rippled with in recent years.

What LaTerian's death did to many of our kids, however, was leave a permanent pulsing scar on the beating hearts of hundreds of children who were not only in awe of his 6’7” structure, but were inspired by the way he turned his life around by becoming an athlete. He gave them strength and he gave them hope.
A high school football and basketball player, LaTerian, whose mother moved him to San Pedro to get away from the violence in their neighborhood, always took the time to encourage and listen to kids much younger than him. The “Empire State Building,” as one kid called him, had shockingly collapsed.
After that death, it seem as a community we slipped back into our slumber – and moved on as usual. We, the adults moved on. The kids – while encouraged to forget – seem to remain haunted by his killing. It haunts many of them in their school hallways, when they walk home and even when they go to the store.
Perhaps they wonder this: If LaTerian can fall, that means so can I.
One high school student I know in particular concerns me now. When I see him, he hangs his head down all the time and he doesn’t look you in the eye. He was friends with La Terian, the second close friend who has been murdered by gangs in his short lifetime.
Perhaps he is now reliving again and again that earlier death. That's when gang members killed his bestfriend -- one month shy of their eighth grade graduation -- when the two were playing basketball. In front of him, they shot his bestfriend in the head -- the same bestfriend who befriended him while he was in foster care and taught him their beloved game of basketball.
Having done little as a community in the past in terms of peace or candlelight vigils, the San Pedro School Safety Collaborative decided the time was – now. The collaborative, which formed three years ago, is a mixture of school, police and service organization officials who work on school safety issues.
Because of the event, Los Angeles police provided me with the nine-pages of names, titled “San Pedro Homicide 1987 to 2007.” I pondered the sheets provided to me for the ceremony and sifted through the names. Mostly barren of details, all the list includes are: the victim’s name and age and the “date murdered.” As I read it, a chill went up my back with a sensation of whispering voices saying: “I’ve been forgotten. Remember me.”
Besides listing the children below the age of 18, there were scores of others killed who should have had their entire lives ahead of them, including two visiting Japanese students, Takuma Ito and Go Matsurra, both 19 and attending Marymount College. They were killed brutally by a gang in 1994 at a Ralph’s on Western Avenue about 11 p.m. where they went to get some late night snacks and a gang member was trying to steal their car. That actually made a lot of us stop and think – “Hey, I shop at Ralphs. It could have been me.” At least for a time.
Despite the intense and fierce international media coverage of the last case, even those deaths have vanished from the mists of our minds.
The death list stills sits in the computer bowels of the LAPD, citing the victims names whose ages range from 1 to 91. Many of the murders remain unsolved, such as LaTerian’s.
For Senior Lead Los Angeles police officer, Joe Buscaino, one of the leaders planning the vigil, his mission has become to promote peace in San Pedro, his hometown, in any way he can. Like so many officers, he said, he’s tired of witnessing the intense pain when knocking on family’s door to let them know – yes – your son, your daughter, your mother, your wife, your husband was just killed. Many are under the age of 30.
“We are just tired of burying these young people,” the officer said. “We are tired of going to the crime scenes. We are tired of watching parents bury their kids. So many of these murders leave the unanswered question: “Why, why, why?”
At the vigil, each victim’s name will be read out loud and their faces will flash across a giant screen, said Joe Gatlin, another one of the event’s organizers. The Pirate Dancers will do a performance. And at the end of it all – as was done on Super Bowl Sunday – those attending will be asked to hold up their cell phones instead of candles to light up the night.
“We’ve got to quit burying our heads in the sand and quit pretending this isn’t happening,” said Gatlin, who hopes this will be the first step toward uniting residents here because there is, after all, much more strength in a cohesive than a divided community.
For me personally, all I could keep wondering since I’ve lived in San Pedro for more than two decades is: “Where are all the adults? Where are we to protect the kids when they get out of school? Why don’t we care about all the kids walking home past gang members? Why do we let them be subjected to having their bikes, radios and I-Pods being stolen. Why is this O.K. on one side of town, but not O.K. on another?”
Reading the homicide list left me frozen. There were names such as Gilbert Sandgren, 17, Tamara Hamilton, 16, Luis Navarro, 21, all killed in 1990.
Besides the children’s names that will be read, there were scores of others killed as they had just reached adulthood who should have had their whole lives ahead of them
Snatched away were the lives of: Willie Birl, 20, Reginald Reese, 19, Matthew Alexander, 19.
I picked up the phone and called Yesenia Aguilar, the College Bound director at the Boys and Girls Club. Had she gone to school with any of those kids?
Yes, she attended school with all three of them -- and none of them were in gangs, she said. They just were killed by gangs. All these deaths hurt and still haunt her to this day.
Willie, she said, was an incredible football player – who had a full college scholarship. He did all the “things he needed to do,” she said. “He stayed focused. He maintained a B average. He was highly pressured because so many of the people he knew were in gangs. But he made all the right choices.”
That was all the right choices, she said, until one day he was walking home and a gang member jumped him. He made a mistake then. He fought back, won and went home. Later, the gang member, she recalled, came to his house and killed him with a shotgun.
“He was the last person who should have died, like LaTerian,” she said. But then she started to recall all the names of kids like this she knew, who had been killed by gangs, including Reese and Alexander.
“There’s no more just fighting anymore,” she said. Like sharks, "the gangs just kill." Recently, she said, a 13-year-old was jumped at a bus stop by gang members, who stole his money and I-pod. He ran to the club for safety, she said.
I was just glad he didn't become another statistic.
You can play with the numbers on this list, rearrange statistics and categorize these deaths in all sorts of ways. For instance in 1991, 18 people were murdered -- the highest number in all those years. This included the murder of the Yip children when their mother, Ophilia, who was depressed drove her van into the harbor with her children strapped inside. The voices of Nichole, 3, Jason, 6, Aaron, 8, Derrick, 13, were silenced that day
The 1998 death of the oldest victim remains unsolved. A woman named Elvira Partida, 91, and her husband, Valentine, 78, were found after firefighters doused out flames at the 600 block of Paseo del Mar.
After an investigation, police determined it was a homicide. Requests for information are still listed on an LAPD website.
I had a friend say that 188 murders in 20 years isn’t that many. True. Compared to other areas of Los Angeles, these numbers are small. But the question is this: why should there be any numbers?
Why should a kid like LaTerian lose his life and gang members be allowed to get away with this? The failure to arrest and jail these culprits means they’ll be just another set of murders – at another party -- another innocent kid killed walking home -- another bright star going down in flames. Eventually, the gang members will rule the streets completely.
But until then, we’ll all slip back into our sleepy little slumber. Unless of course, we start encouraging the kids to tell us when they know something's coming down. Because sadly, we really haven’t proven to them that we care.
When they die, we do nothing.
Maybe this peace vigil – just maybe – will be the first step we, the adults take, to show the kids in this town that we really do care -- no matter where they live, where they eat or they sleep.
And just like LaTerian did for them, we might be able to give them an ounce of hope.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


It might not seem big. It might not even seem like a small step for humanity.

But that’s exactly what it was when our Coastal Neighborhood Council voted unanimously to sponsor Dana Middle School’s After School Clubs– and supplied $2,500 to continue the programs.
But the council didn’t stop there. The board agreed to match another $2,500 if any organization, private citizen or another Neighborhood Council agreed to give that much or more.
Why is this important?
Under the name LA Network for Kids, Dana Middle School has launched many after school clubs to keep students off the streets, direct them away from gangs and give students confidence about their abilities. As a pilot program, Dana could become a role model for other middle schools in Los Angeles. In addition, the entire after school program which includes about ten clubs thus far, was built by parent volunteers, community members and a generous PTO.
As the clubs grew, it became clear the PTO could no longer be the program’s sole financial support. Should the program work – it is currently in the process of being adopted by Beyond the Bell – in charge of LAUSD’s after school programming – the hope is this type of programming could spread among all middle schools – the most ignored tier in the educational system.
The clubs thus far include: Spanish, Croatian, swim, art, cooking, DAPS (like a junior Police Explorers), basketball and are done in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club. The Boys and Girls Club also runs a homework club every day after school.
In addition, the basketball club – run by CIF Coach Derrick Smith – has an educational component that extends far beyond what people think should be done in a junior high level. Coach Smith has his students go to Hhomework Club several times a week and is in the process of enrolling every one of his players in the College Bound Boys and Girls Club program.
He always tells the kids: “school first, basketball second.” His big vision is to make his players learn fundamentals of basketball backward and forward so they have a shot to make it on a high school team.
But more importantly, he wants to prepare his students for college.
Under this plan, his players will attend the College Bound program every Thursday and get trained on what classes they need in high school, learn how to take the SAT and ways to start exploring financial aid.
The council's funding will help continue the popular cooking club -- which was a collaborative effort between Dana and San Pedro High's middle schools. Sandy Wood, the high school's culinary teacher, trains the middle school students using her high school volunteers to help.
It's a winner for both students, the older youth learn more responsiblities and the younger students are learning a life skill with cooking.
That is why the Coastal Council's generosity – is not a small step for humanity – but perhaps a giant leap in showing how a community working together can build programs that help our kids.

Monday, February 04, 2008

MAGIC SHOW FUNDRAISER HELPS TWO SCHOOLS: Dana Middle and White Point Elementary; Come Sample Some Mysterious Illusions Friday evening and Support Your Local Public Schools

In a rare and magical collaboration, Dana Middle and White Point Elementary schools will host a night of unearthly illusions Friday to raise money for both campuses.
The two schools decided to hire Magician Brock Edwards to make the evening a magical success for both campuses. The show will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and can be bought at the door. Ages 3 and under are free. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)
Brock will delight the eyes with a disappearing woman and an audience member finding out what it’s like to be cut in half – from a magical point of view.
A raffle will be held at the event and snacks will be sold.
For a mysterious evening, show up to Dana 1501 S. Cabrillo Avenue and get your kids a taste of some real magic!

Saturday, February 02, 2008


By Diana L. Chapman
Starting in November, it seemed that we were ready to rock-and-roll with a peace vigil and rally -- a plan that was sparked by the shooting death of popular San Pedro High football player La Terian Tasby.
Pastor Oliver Buie of Warren Chapel easily persuaded the planners, including school and city officials, that using John Lennon’s song Imagine, playing it repeatedly – and having the theme, “Peace, Safety and Unity: Let the journey begin...” was a perfect fit. The event was planned at that point for Daniel’s Field and seemed to please everybody.
After weeks of meetings and planning and more weeks of meeting and planning, we then met with San Pedro High School students and asked them what they thought “You do know the song Imagine? Right?,” I asked. The students faces were blank. “How about the Beatles?” I queried. Still blank faces.
That was the moment the entire room – filled with city, school and social agency officials, knew we were back to the beginning, because we wanted to reach across the entire community – in particular to students. I don’t think anyone thought about the fact that us 40 somethings (for the most part) were planning somewhat blindly.
Not only did the students not know the music, they urged us to place the rally at San Pedro High School – a central location and one that honored La Terian and others victimized by gangs. Then one senior shed this wisdom upon us.
“You can’t do this just one time,” he explained, because it's going to take a lot of effort to change the way gangsters behave. Needless to say, we agreed -- once again -- to change the date and location. At Monday’s (1/27) meeting, the new date – May 1 – was challenged for just another hitch, burp and bump in the road.
This was just too close to the time of the immigration protests where students across Los Angeles walked out of schools – and might do so again. More disappointment. However, Joe Gatlin, one of the team's leaders, promptly set up another date at San Pedro High; we are now confirmed for Thursday, May 8th at 7 p.m. at San Pedro High’s Football Stadium.
We plan to read out the names of every child killed by gangs in San Pedro in the past ten years – just to remind us all that this cancer is rotting our community and forcing hundreds of children to live in fear everyday.
And let’s hope this date sticks – because , we as a community, need to do this now. Not next week or the month after that. But now. Why? So the kids know that we care – no matter where they live. Kids at least deserve this much. If the community comes out at large to this event, it might just make the kids think – "Hey, perhaps the residents of San Pedro do feel something for us after all."
La Terian’s death, one of a string over the past ten years, is heart-wrenching for the community, but no one can truly understand what it meant to the students at the Boys and Girls Club where LaTerian landed once his mother moved him down here, believing he was in a safer place.
He came to San Pedro as a 10th grader to San Pedro High where coaches talked him into playing basketball and football – he was 6 feet 7 inches. That’s exactly what he did and he brought up his grades so he could play. At the club, he was a success story.

But it’s not so much what he did for himself. It’s what La Terian did for others – always talking to younger kids that if he could make it – so could they, entertaining his coach’s toddler on a long three-hour drive back from a basketball game – and most of all, just listening. Being a good friend was part of his nature.

And that’s why he probably died at the party. When alleged gang members crashed that October evening, they allegedly attacked LaT erian’s friends – and according to many kids, he died fighting to protect them when he was shot in the chest and died at the scene.
Perhaps this student's writing spells out best the emotions that swirled and pummeled at the Boys and Girls Club – and probably for many students at San Pedro High. “When I found out, I just died,” wrote, a 13-year-old boy and Dana Middle School student. “I asked what happened and when they told me he was shot I started to cry…It hurt me really badly; I wish I could have died with him. I will always remember him as the Empire State Building. I thought he was strong as a boulder, but I guess I found out that he was not as strong as a boulder.”
Since this time, a pall has been cast across the shadows of the children who knew La Terian, a feeling so gray and cold that I'm afraid many of them wonder if they’ll make it to the age of 20.
After all, if the "Empire State Building," can collapse, so can they.
One girl told me she had lost five friends to drive-by shootings in her very short life of 16 years. This peace vigil is not being done in honor of La Terian. Its’ being done in honor of every single child that’s been brought down by gangs, kids who want like the rest of us – just to have a peaceful day in their lives. A day without shootings. A day without helicopters. A day where they can walk home and not worry about getting jumped, having their bikes’ and Ipods stolen. A day where drugs aren’t being sold in front of them…a day like my son often has in his life. A day perhaps like your own child has. Days filled with safe haven. All kids deserve this. La Terian deserved it.
The closer we become as a community, the safer we will all become by letting the police know when these events are about to happen. Let’s head them off at the pass by becoming a community that bonds and cares no matter what section of town you are from. Word on the street, according to some officials, is that some students knew something was brewing, but were afraid to report it to any adults. There’s our job right there. We need to make them comfortable and wanted. We want them to be able to talk to us, but to do so, we have to be willing to listen -- one studen explained to me once.

Peace vigil planners took to heart what that 17-year-old boy told us – we have to do more than one rally. Because of that, school officials are planning “days of dialogue,” at both San Pedro High and Dana Middle schools, where students will be able to openly talk about their feelings so they can be addressed. Organizations such as Toberman and the Boys and Girls Club are being encouraged to do open houses – so that residents are more familiar with what each agency has to offer. Other ideas are being discussed, such as having residents volunteer to undertake mediation training to help settle disputes.
What’s your job in all this? Start with just showing up to the peace vigil whenever it is – so we can perhaps cast aside the shadows of death – and save all the other La Terians out there – because believe me, there are many. And they all deserve a chance -- not just at success -- but a chance at life.