Today was one of those surreal moments. I went to the Monrovia Press Conference staged to let the public know through the media what the various government agencies are doing to control the gang warfare that is plaguing my corner of the SGV. (A side bar is that people writing on blogs aren’t considered media, rather advocates but I wasn’t tossed out so that is OK).
As a citizen I sat there listening to the Mayor’s speech. One by one various members of the community and county stood up and introduced themselves. The mayor stood there and said this show of forces is what will do what it takes to fix the problem. I believe him and agree that the community as a whole needs to step up and talk about what they see to help them rid us all of the problem. I may not always agree with the methods but I do remember to be thankful someone stood up to do the job.
I got to meet some people whose work I have admired for a while while I was there, Frank Giradot from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Crime Scene Blog. Very interesting man, his CRIME SCENE BLOG I wrote about HERE
months ago. Frank is live blogging the bits as they happen HERE. I also got to meet briefly Todd Ruiz from the PSN and owner of the Under The Dome blog who has a couple of posts on what is going on HERE and most certainly will have a full report earlier. I met ABC7 camera man Stephen Coleman who in turn introduced me to Leo Stallworth.
It was reassuring to see what resources the city has brought to bear. It is watching them as both a citizen and someone from the media as they react to questions especially those on whether it is racially motivated or not. I understand the issue of gangs, gang control of an area but when you have the Duarte Eastside, Monrovia Nueve Vario and Duroc Crips dividing themselves along racial lines it is hard to follow the line of thought that it is only gang turf. As a citizen it is hard to be emotionally detached. It is hard as a parent to explain to your 5th grader it is ok to be friends with innocent kids like Damien and Wisdom when they see a group dividing on racial lines and killing based on them.
Watching people you elected who know our votes that put them in office as you believed they would protect all that is good in the community then later see them in the position to explain we are in “crisis” isn’t easy. Watching people who you know to be good at heart and believe they were doing the best isn’t easy for either. Certainly we are all shocked by how bad things have gotten and fear where it could go next. Listening to how bad it is brought a pit to my stomach, when I saw councilman Mary Ann Lutz fighting back the tears I knew she felt the same horror the rest of us did. I knew at that moment we can beat this as they truly are in it with us. All the words can be prescripted, emotions can’t. Thanks Ms Lutz for putting a human face, a partners face in city hall for us.
A Press event is different, surreal watching pros put forth their message and the press seek clarification or specific information. One affected by it all gets a very different view and version than someone city on their sofa on the other side of the city. Attending as part of the media is different when you have both parts watching. It’s my nightmare as well as a news for the rest of the city.
Even as I listened to citizens who have had families shot at talk out it was hard to stay focused. Moments of lunacy like the man who stood up saying “Not teaching social etiquette in the classrooms, ballroom dancing and how to dress is the root of our problems” ands to the strange nature of a press conference when the man on the street gets to speak. An interesting twist away from the seriousness. Gives you a minute of disbelief to shift your focus and clear your mind for a minute.
Sorry I can’t be impartial and bring it to you without my take. I’m only human with no delusions of my abilities or a bias. If you want the full feeds check KABC7 and KNBC4 who were there recording it live. Local cable channel KGEM filmed it live they may have it on their website later and may be found HERE later in the day.
The Monrovia City Web has a nice updateHERE.
Until then you can count on me being an advocate for kids, schools and what is right in my community or what needs to be fixed.
2/1/08 Updated most current web links and added City Web