Monday, March 31, 2008

HAUNTED IN SAN PEDRO; ONE MORE CHILD DEAD. What does it mean to the woman who stumbled onto the shooting -- with a medical background and stops as a duty?

Dear Readers: This piece was written by a friend who was on her way home from work in the medical industry when she stumbled on another senseless shooting in our town. Miguel Osuna, 15, was killed last Wednesday around 5 p.m. while he stood outside on a porch in the 600 block of Sixth Street. This is what my friend wrote when she fell into the tragic event driving home from work. Because of her medical background, she stopped to help. Miguel is now the 189th murder in the last two decades in San Pedro -- an average of nine killings per year. Many of the homicides s are related to gangs and also remain unsolved. Whatever you can do to help the youngsters of today -- please do so. Diana

She wrote:
I am haunted by the death of yet another teenager in San Pedro.
I didn’t know Miguel but feel that I may have seen him since I work a block away from the house where he was killed.
Last week, I heard the shots and attempted to approach the scene. The police had not arrived yet. I was stopped by a few men who inquired as to where I was going? These men brought me back to reality by saying, “They are shooting down there. You shouldn’t go." At that moment, I saw a little girl standing on the sidewalk and my instincts took over. " Get to that little girl-remove her from this situation." There was no one (an adult) near her. Where was her mother? Was the mother the one that was shot? There were so many things that went through my head and I know that I needed to process things very quickly as a little girl's life was now at stake. At this point, I still did not know what happened. But I made the decision to grab the little girl and take her to a safe distance from the house.

As I approached, a man appeared and stayed next to her. I then became a bystander and watched as several women on the porch were obviously grief stricken and hysterical. I still didn’t know what had happened, but I knew whatever it was, it was really bad.

The police and paramedics arrived. I could tell by the demeanor of the paramedics that whomever was shot was in all likely hood deceased. Just a feeling. The next day I desperately needed to know if the little girl was okay. I was unable to focus at work. I had been told a boy was shot six times and was informed that the little girl was his sister. She was okay.

Miguel’s blood was still on the porch. Family and friends had erected a shrine which consisted of a basket ball jersey, several velas and a rosary. It was just very, very sad. I hugged his friends/hommies whom were obviously in shock and grieving for the loss. I hugged an older woman who came out of the house and I believe was his mother as she kept saying, “My son, my son” in Spanish. Several girls clung to me for support.

One individual that I spent some time with had on a T-Shirt of a cousin who died in a similar fashion. I couldn’t help thinking that the next time I see this individual he will have on a T-shirt with a picture of Miguel and the dates of his short life.

These people didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them. They received me as a person who was touched by the death of their loved one. It wasn’t a matter (for me) of being in a gang or not; it was about being a human being at that moment.

I’ve had some time to think about Miguel and the individual whom shot and killed him. I grieve for both families because ultimately whether it be via the police or “street justice” another family will lose a loved one. That’s just the way it is.

Haunted in San Pedro.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


By Diana L. Chapman

Officials of a three-year-old collaborative working to prevent violence in San Pedro are asking families of scores of murder victims to step forward and share their stories and photos to honor the victims at a May 15 peace vigil. Another child was killed in the seaside community this week in a possible gang-related incident.

The Peace and Unity rally will be held at San Pedro High School's Pirate Stadium at 6 p.m. as a way to allow victim's families and the community at large to mourn and come together against violence on San Pedro's streets -- a move that is rare in this community. The planning was underway long before violence took a teenage boy was shot Wednesday about 5 p.m.

Miguel Osuna, 15, reportedly was shot as he stood on the porch of 600 block of Sixth Street about. Police told the Daily Breeze that the teenager was possibly killed from shots fired from a rifle at a car wash across the street. He died later at County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

His death boosts the number of killings in San Pedro to 189 over the past two decades. Not only is he the 189 victim to die from violence, he becomes one of 24 children killed during that time period. This averages out to a rate of more than nine murders each year in this coastal community.

Many of those killing remain unsolved and were victims of gang violence.

"This is a long overdue memorial for those who have been killed in San Pedro," said Senior Lead Police Officer Joe Buscaino, a Los Angeles police officer born and raised here. "This is an opportunity for us to remember those who fell victim to violent crime. This a chance for the community to show that violence is not acceptable in this town."

Families who want their loved one honored at the rally can call officials to provide information and photos and are asked to attend the rally -- which was sparked by the unsolved October shooting death of the San Pedro High football and basketball player LaTerian Tasby.

Students across San Pedro High School believed a vigil was going to be held in LaTerian's honor text messaged each other furiously to go, according to one report, but officials -- out of respect from a family request -- agreed to wait and honor all victims of homicides in the community.

The football player -- who had moved to San Pedro to get away from violence in his former Los Angeles-area neighborhood -- became a popular figure at both the high school and the Boys and Girls Club with his turn around in grades, his talents at sports and his "if-I-can-do-it-you-can-do-it-too attitude."

He also spent time tending to younger youth's issues by listening to them. LaTerian was shot and killed on an October weekend last year after alleged gang members crashed a party filled with promising high school athletes, yelled out racial slurs -- according to some youths -- and started a ruckus which wound up in several other students being stabbed. Those youths survived.

Due to the enormity of LaTerian's death -- and the fact that the murder remains unsolved as do many other homicides in San Pedro -- the San Pedro Safety Collaborative agreed to hold a rally in hopes of bringing the community together against violence.

The collaborative includes police, school officials, non-profit organizations dealing with youths such as the YWCA, Toberman and the Boys and Girls Club, and business leaders.

Families that desire their loved ones to be honored and included in the rally should call Gabriela Medina at the YWCA at (310) 547-0831. Volunteers will be needed to help set up and break down the event. Please call Alice Castellanos, also of the YWCA at the same number.

All I ask -- please come. Show the kids we care. Show families who've lost loved ones that they are not alone in their grief.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Angels Gate Cultural Center and San Pedro City Ballet
present newly commissioned work

Angels Gate Cultural Center and San Pedro City Ballet will collaborate on a program of all original modern dance works, including a new, site-specific work commissioned especially for the ballet’s male youth group, to be performed in the Center’s Gallery A. Performances occur on April 11, 12 & 13, 2008 at Angels Gate Cultural Center in Angels Gate Park.
It’s unusual to have a group of artistic young men, especially in the heavily industrial neighborhoods of the L.A. Harbor area, focused on doing exciting things with dance. All the dancers for the new work are under 21; most are currently students in San Pedro. “This commission is a great opportunity to support and encourage a talented and hard working group of young artists, and, at the same time, support the fabulous San Pedro City Ballet, which is an enormous San Pedro resource that everyone needs to be more aware of”, said Nathan Birnbaum, Executive Director of Angels Gate Cultural Center
“The project was very appealing, as it has been six years since the company has done a program like this. It is an intriguing challenge to do an entire evening of site-specific works”, said Patrick David Bradley, choreographer of the commissioned work and SPCB Co-Artistic Director.
The performers of the new work are San Pedro City Ballet’s male youth group – Wolf Bradley, Julian de Santiago, Andrew Macatrao, Gabriel Macatrao and Juan Wing – and one female dancer from the troupe, Caroline Cypres.
The commission is supported with a Cultural Center grant from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and a SPCB grant from the L.A. County Arts Commission. “It was perfect timing to combine forces and a grant from the County Arts Commission, and just create on these wonderful young dancers,” says Co-Artistic Director Cindy Bradley.

Program: World Premiere of “Door #2; “Date”; “The Art of the Shoe” (danced to poetry by local poet Regina O'Melvany); “Covenant.”
Choreography: Patrick David Bradley and Cindy Bradley.
Dancers: Caroline Cypres, Wolf Bradley, Julian de Santiago, Andrew Macatrao, Gabriel Macatrao, and Juan Wing. PERFORMANCE DATES & TIMES: Friday, April 11th, 8 pm; Saturday April 12th, 8 pm; Sunday April 13th, 7 pm.
LOCATION: Angels Gate Cultural Center, Gallery A
3601 South Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA
ADMISSION: $25 general, $20 Angels Gate Cultural Center members
(Limited seating)
For ticket reservations: (310) 519-0936
About San Pedro City Ballet: San Pedro City Ballet (SPCB) was established in 1994 by nationally recognized dancers and teachers, Cynthia and Patrick David Bradley, as a not-for-profit dance company serving greater Los Angeles. The company performs "The Nutcracker” annually at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, produces original modern works for a variety of venues throughout Southern California, and holds performance workshops throughout the city of Los Angeles. SPCB’s mission is to identify, train and promote a world-class pre-professional dance company from the diverse population of the Los Angeles Harbor area that is founded in classical works and traditions, and goes beyond to explore new contemporary and original modern works, and to provide training to schools throughout Los Angeles for arts education and after-school programs.

About Angels Gate Cultural Center: For 25 years Angels Gate has been recognized for its high quality, innovative arts programming in the areas of public exhibitions and performances, education programs for the school-age kids of the Harbor area, international residencies in the visual arts, and much needed services to professional artists. In 2003, Angels Gate Cultural Center began a growing into a mid-sized institution, obtaining a 30-year lease from the City of L.A. and launching plans for the development of the coastal 64-acre Angels Gate Park. Dance commissions and special site specific events are part of the continued expansion of the Center’s performing arts programs, along with the New Play Reading series and the Art on the Waterfront festival, a partnership with the Port of Los Angeles. The Cultural Center is an independent nonprofit in partnership with the City of L.A. Dept. of Recreation and Parks. More information about Angels Gate Cultural Center is available at

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Weighing In On Angel’s Gate as A High School; The Question We Should Really Be Asking Ourselves is Not Why…We Should Be Asking Why Not? A Prominent Educational Facility Could Be Built Here; It Just Needs Wings To Fly & the Residents to Tell the School District How to Do It
By Diana L. Chapman
I watched four high school students bravely get up and talk about the torturous learning environment they are currently living in at San Pedro High School.
Despite the hoards of resident’s complaints against the proposed building of a new high school at Angel’s Gate, the students stepped forward asking desperately for the 800 to 1,200 seat high school to proceed on the 28 acre site.
“Yes, we need to save the foxes and work on the noise pollution,” one 12th grade girl told the crowd in regards to their complaints. “But we really need more room. It’s like we are playing football everyday. It’s so crowded, it’s hard to get to class on time.”
Classes are so overbooked at their current school, the students said, some kids stand during the entire class or are crammed right up to the teacher’s desk. Going into the hallways is like heading onto the freeway at 3 o’clock in the afternoon to face a gushing onslaught of traffic. And education is spiraling downward because the teachers can’t teach in classrooms that are jammed like sardine cans with students.
This explains right away to me why we have a 50 percent dropout rate in Los Angeles Unified. The kids begged for help, but some of the residents failed to use their ears. One man told the students to climb aboard and join the real world. Los Angeles, he said, is overcrowded “so get use to it.” Residents clapped at that. It seems nowhere in San Pedro will our community accept the building of a desperately needed new high school. That must speak loudly to our kids about how our community feels toward them. The students who spoke at the Los Angeles Unified School meeting held at Dana Middle School March 13 won’t stand to gain anything; the school won’t be built until 2012. They are thinking about the future.
Perhaps we should too.
I would ask you now to take the time to pause, step out of your box and imagine the tremendous educational opportunities that could be at Angel’s Gate. For just a moment, stop worrying about the traffic, the den of foxes, the concern a high school would mar the tranquility of the site -- a location which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is constantly beaten by pulsating winds. Think instead for a moment at what a emarkable educational facility Angels’ Gate could become – which will only happen if residents force the issue.
Currently, Angel’s Gate hosts a plethora of underused possibilities – all of which should absolutely be integrated into the proposed high school’s regime. If a high school becomes the inner-hub of the area, think of the potential. Students could study marine biology at the Mammal Marine Care Center and help feed fish to the rescued sea lions. They can learn firsthand about World War II and what it meant to California at the Fort MacArthur Museum and visit the underground bunkers that still exist there today. They can learn from a slew of amazing artists at the Cultural Arts Center. Students can learn how to save birds and study the impact oil has when its washed into the sea at the International Bird Rescue Center.
Everyone of these facilities is located at the site.
In short, this could be one of the best, hands-on academic facilities in all of Los Angeles. An educator told me once that it was a shame we tried to do everything in a classroom; the real learning, he said, happens out in the field. Here is a place where all kinds of study and research could be adopted. Students also could volunteer at many of these remarkable resources and keep them alive and running for generations to come.
We can complain about the den of foxes at Angel’s Gate being in danger because of the construction and the marine mammals ears popping due to jackhammers and the traffic that could pour into the campus. These are critical issues that need to be addressed.
Yes, the district needs to protect the foxes and might have to build a preserve for them on the site, which would provide students with yet another educational opportunity.
The residents’ contend that vehicles should not be allowed to access the school using Alma Street -- an argument that should be adhered to due to the already existing number of accidents on the narrow residential street. The residents know them all. They've been counting.
Community members want more than the proposed 113 parking spaces. That too makes sense, because the neighbors don’t want – and should not have to deal with -- an overflow of cars parking on their streets.
Another man feared juvenile destruction that can sometimes accompany neighborhoods set near schools. The district needs to find away to provide the security the neighbors seek.
LAUSD School Board Member Richard Vladovic told the crowd that he would pull together a team of educators to design this school. I propose that he not just use educators, but include residents and community leaders who understand what Angel’s Gate can provide for students, but also buff down the severe impact a high school could have if its not built keeping the neighborhood in mind.
All I am asking right now is that residents think about it. Think about the potential and the much greater chance we – as a community will have – to churn out kids who will care about their environment, protect and rescue wildlife, understand the atrocities of World War II and the way it played out here in California and explore the arts with true artists working right next door.
Here, we will be molding well-rounded, future citizens. If we do not do this, as Richard Vladovic has indicated, our high school – San Pedro High – will go year round.
Then think about this; This means 1,000 kids will be streaming through our streets – without adult guidance because many parents will be working -- all day long. They will receive a lesser education, according to the school board member, because studies have shown year round schooling is not nearly as successful as traditional year round.
And then think about this: What will all that mean for the future of all of San Pedro? Rather than send the kids packing with shoes to the streets, I'd much rather give the kids wings they need to learn to soar the sky at Angel's Gate. Then perhaps, we will truly be making good citizens.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


By Diana L. Chapman

Each year in San Pedro, eighth grade boys stream out of their junior highs on graduation day with big plans to try out for the high school football team.
The trouble with this: many of the students have never played the game.
My son is one of these kids and that lack of experience makes me nervous.
So when Jim True, who coached locally and now serves as the Boys and Girls Club branch director at the Cabrillo site, told me he planned to launch a football conditioning practice at Daniel’s Field – I knew this would be great news for many parents and students.
Any sixth through eighth graders can join as long as they go through Dana Middle School's Homework Club or otherwise join the Boys and Girls Club for liability reasons. The cost of the program is free.
Starting at 4 p.m. today (Monday, March 10), Jim – who held coaching jobs at Banning High School for eight years and at Harbor College for four years – plans to “get them physically fit,” no matter their lack of experience.
Much attention will be paid, however, to the 8th graders – who will have a separate training schedule to prepare them for the grueling high school try outs in less than four weeks. But that doesn't mean younger kids shouldn't join now. The sooner the coach gets them – the better.
“They just have so much to get in in such a short time,” he explained of the 8th graders, “and they’re not ready. They will do a lot of drills, a lot of running and getting into shape.”
Hallelujah! Thank you Mr. True.
To me, this is one of the great moments where an organization found a gap between schools and came up with a plan to fill it.
It also embraces the concept that the community at large needs to get behind its schools; residents can no longer expect school officials to do everything. On any given day, there are just not enough of them to baby sit, teach academics, behavior, values, social skills and the rest of the tools students need to survive – especially kids who have no support at home.
Since students involved in sports must have a C average, True and his crew will make each student go first to Dana Middle School's Homework Club and report with a pass in hand showing that they have concentrated on their homework first; Dodson students can do homework at the club site first.
Of late, Dana Middle School and the Boys and Girls Club have started to tie sport's programs to education as a way to help students maintain and improve their grades.
Dana’s Basketball Coach, Derrick Smith, who trains students daily at the campus had all his students enroll in the Boys and Girls Club’s College Bound program. That program currently trains students in exactly what high school courses they need to go to college and helps with all preparation from taking SATs to writing essays. All these actions fill gaps that are painfully large between students and our educational facilities.
If you have any ideas or suggestions how many other gaps can be filled, please email me at