Friday, July 27, 2007

At the Park After Dark

At the Park After Dark
Originally uploaded by CD-13
Gang violence is one of the most intractable problems facing Los Angeles. It touches every community, devastating families and dampening the future for too many of our children. Effective police work is critical to helping communities stop gang violence, but we cannot arrest our way out of our gang problem. We need to give at-risk youth opportunities to develop their talents and their skills, to keep them off the street and away from gangs.

"At the Park After Dark" is an innovative program launched by my office, in partnership with the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Aztecs Rising Firefighter crew, and Artstorm Los Angeles to do exactly that. Based at the Glassell Park Recreation Center, At the Park After Dark keeps the center open into the late hours of the night, Wednesday through Saturday, providing programming and activities for youth age 12-18 throughout the summer. The inspiring stories of the Aztecs Rising crew, former gang members now fighting fires throughout the state, is on full display as their members host boxing lessons. A mobile skate park is brought in to complement our basketball and soccer leagues. Local DJs host turntable classes, and Artstorm Los Angeles allows would-be taggers to paint using aerosol cans on free canvas, turning a destructive activity into a creative one.

At the Park After Dark is a small step in the much larger battle against gangs in Los Angeles. It’s going to take a coordinated effort on behalf of government, the private sector, and community groups to eliminate the root causes of gang violence - and At the Park After Dark shows how it can be done.