Thursday, March 26, 2009

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A Series of Shootings at Local Business on Bandini StreetHave Triggered Alarm and Prompted Local Groups to Rustle Up a Barbecue on Saturday; Funds Will Go Toward Paying for Repairs

Two sets of non-fatal shootings that riddled a local African-American barber shop and a nearby church close to an elementary school this month have caused alarm and triggered several groups to announce a giant block party and barbecue Saturday to bring the community together.

The Block Party will begin at 11 a.m. and stop at 7 p.m. Justice For Murdered Children, the Toberman House, the Warren Chapel Church and the Boys and Girls Club are some of the groups participating in the event.

Funds from the barbecue proceeds – which will include $1 hotdogs and $8 rib dinners, will go to help the local business rebuild, said LaWanda Hawkins, who founded Justice for Murdered Children after her son was murdered in 1995.

“Everybody was shocked since it’s just one block away from an elementary school,” LaWanda said. “They’ve (the businesses) had to get their windows redone and pay money and then they had to do it again.”

In particular, the African-American community is heavily invested in Soulful Shears, which has served the black community for years. Barber shops in the black community often become more than a spot to get a haircut, but blossom into social places where stories are swapped, told and retold, explained LaWanda, who has her hair done there.

Noted African American Los Angeles police commanders, Randall Simons and Kenneth Garner got haircuts there, she said. Both recently died, Simons in action and Garner from a health issue.

The barber shop owner “was going to close up and move and we all said: “Don’t do that!” LaWanda added.

The event will be held at Top Value, a market at First and Bandini streets, and hopes to bring the community together to make a statement to end the shootings.

--Diana Chapman