4 Days of Quiet in Monrovia

As a resident of this little corner of LA I can’t say that I am not holding my breath waiting for the next shell casing to drop.  Those of us here in Monrovia were glad to see the show of force the last few days.  Many often wonder why it took a crisis for us to get this sort of protection and high visibility policing.  Many  of us are glad that the City of Monrovia has taken a lot of steps over the last several years to help those in the poorer sections of the community to rebuild themselves through their MAP program with the goal of making sure crime would not happen.

The San Gabriel Tribune has been covering the gang warfare with constant articles and updates.  The most recent article:  Monrovia police arrest seven in raid of gang locations which brought the good news that there was 7 arrests last night.  Of those 7, 6 are being held without bail.

Most worrisome to many in the area was the sudden realization that there was a “no mans land”, or unincorporated communities who were within the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County.  Many were unaware that their “Monrovia” address was for the convenience of the postal service and mail delivery whose policing and services were due them from the County.  I can applaud my city for stepping in and trying to help and making their quality of life an issue with LA County.  It doesn’t however, change the problem for the folks down there in the unincorporated county land using Monrovia, Arcadia or Duarte as their address. They have lived there for many years not realizing the local city governments did not have the jurisdiction to help them.

Among the many meetings taking place in the area throughout the area are “down there” as well.  The meeting at Annunciation Church on Thursday night was well attended.  I did get one email from a community member here that served only to illustrate the problems within the LA County area.  She wrote me: “I went to the town meeting at annunciation and i feel so sorry for the people in unincorporated area: they’re on their own. it was pathetic.”.  I called her to clarify what she meant.  She said that she understood the community’s problem down there, the County Board of Supervisors sent a representative from Mike Antonovich’s office, but the got little in the way or promises or assurances.  She said she does understand even better how the term “no mans land” came about and only hopes that the county steps in and does its job.

Probably the best commentary on the sense of frustration and hopelessness comes from my long time friend and community volunteer Kate Clark.  Her open “letter to the editor” went to primarily to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune with copies to several other different press and media outlets. I did eliminate her personal contact information and added a hyper link to the news article she referenced.  It read as follows:

Regarding the Sat. Feb 2 Star News, page 1, Monrovia article, “Sheriff’s Officials Defend Patrol Strategy“: 

The last paragraph/line in the first page of today’s story reads, “The meeting included members of the elected Monrovia-Arcadia-Duarte Town Council, Monrovia Mayor Rob Hammond and Councilwoman MaryAnn Lutz, along with…” 
 
Who and what is this “elected Monrovia-Arcadia-Duarte Town Council” ?   
Who elected them ?  When ?  What do they do ? Where and when do they meet ?   
I’ve been a Monrovian for over 7 years, I read the Star News and LA Times daily, and I don’t remember ever hearing or reading anything about this particular Council before.   
Is this something just for those in the County “islands” between those cities ?   
If so, then why hasn’t this Council been included as part of the larger Monrovia community ?  
 
For example, this council is not on the Monrovia Arts Festival Association’s mailing list.  Nor is it on the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce’s mailing list.  If this is a true representative council for a segment of the community, why are they not known to people active in the larger community ?  Are they merely a subset of the already existing publicly-elected City Councils of those three communities (—in which case its not really an elected, but appointed Town Council) ?  Are they just a political and /or development oriented body, not interested (until now) in community social issues ?  
 
The people of Monrovia would love to know about this additional community/governing body in our midst !  Please inform us !   
 
Thank you also for your paper’s continued efforts to illuminate the unpleasant realities of our community so that we may address and remedy them.   
 
Our local leaders have made every effort to hide these realities from the citizens as well as the press for years, but the residents here do appreciate the efforts the press are making to shed light on these issues.  
As recently as last summer, when our block held a Neighborhood Watch meeting, the police told us that a) there was no gang problem in Monrovia (which I knew from personal experience was not true), and b) 99% of crimes in Monrovia are (-paraphrased here-) committed by people from other areas who drive down the 210, look up the hill, see nice houses, and decide to drive up and break into your house.  
We were all quite deliberately led to believe that the only crimes were crimes of opportunity, committed by strangers to the area.   
This was, I believe, not the fault of the police directly, but the official policy of Mayor, City Council and City government as a whole.  This is what all other residents I’ve talked to have been told over the last 3 years, by anyone from the City. In spite of murders in front of witnesses, in spite of car thefts by organized car theft rings, the story has always been, “We have no real crime here.”   
Ignorance may indeed be blissful, but its not safe—- and its not true !   
And since our elected officials are not committed to the truth, we must rely on you in the press to inform us 
Until this gang problem started to show up in the press in January, most Monrovians still left their homes and vehicles unlocked, and took no precautions for the safety of their property, their children or themselves.   
That has changed now, at least some. (Many naive folks up on the hill here still think the problem is only “down there” and that it can’t impact them.)   
Yes, many Monrovian’s are more fearful now, because they know:  But its the truth.  And many people are also now more motivated to help do something to make this town safer for everyone, to change that truth for the better.   
So, thank you ! 
 
Kathleen K. Clark” 

All very interesting reading and it illustrates the sense of frustration felt within the community.  It certainly does end with the right note, the community is motivated to make things better.

Living it has moved from the surreal back into the real world. I spent today talking with long time business people and law enforcement professionals.  I got a better understanding of the gang problem in the area, how MPD works and I am more impressed with their honest and earnest efforts to keep us safe.  I got a better understanding on why so many are calling this a race war even though that is not what this community is about. 

I do understand better why some in the community are so disenfranchised that they don’t trust the elected officials in town.  I met with a couple along Los Angeles Avenue this afternoon who are desperate to be heard but have lost faith in the process.  I met a business woman who wants to help these people help themselves by offering up a neutral place to do so, to host and help facilitate their own neighborhood meetings. Its all about community.  My community, all working to fix it.  I guess that does make me an advocate too.

6 Replies to “4 Days of Quiet in Monrovia”

  1. I echo Kathy Clarke’s sentiments exactly.
    What is the Monrovia Town Council? What does it do? Who are its members?
    The Thursday night meeting for residents of the unincorporated area was the largest gathering of Monrovians EVER for any issue in our town, even the Hillside development. People kept streaming in. The frustration and anger were palatable. It was infuriating that a Monrovia Town Council, who essentially no one knew kept trying to place the onus of responsibility on who showed up: “You as the community have to be vigilant, you have to let us know what’s going on, you have to pick up the phone and call us, you have to cooperate with us and show up at meetings, you, you, you.”
    And then the sheriff representative started the meeting with “this won’t be a discussion of response times,” and “we have one car for every 33,000 people.” What??? I think Monrovia has, at any one time, at least 5 cars out per 38,000–do the math. And who loses? Finally, our children. They’re dead and severely wounded.
    Yes, we could get into a discussion about taxes, and how much the unincorporated homes are taxed, and how much Monrovians pay. But why, why and why does it take children dying to get action? And here’s the lingering, unpopular questions that remained:
    –Have you increased patrols “down there”? (see the SpinMeister aka Dick Singer’s comments) How long will they last? How many are patrolling right now, tonight, Friday night?
    –How long did it take for help to get to Samantha and her friend the night she was shot? From official sheriff response logs they rolled one hour later. Does that mean Monrovia paramedics got there first? We do have a station less than a mile from the child’s death.
    –Do we really need to form more committees and create more task forces? Where was DAMAGE, and LAIMPACT? Can’t we give them more resources and let them do their job?
    –Where is the crack, fanny-kicking police or sheriff gang experts from South Central? Can we borrow them for awhile?
    –What exactly is gang attire du jour today? What do we look for? Why did you, as city officials and county sheriffs, assume we know that? Could you be specific–colors, lengths, hats, pants, jeans, shoes, logos– just put it out there for heaven’s sake and clue us in. This issue is so fluid, inform us and keep us up to date.
    –Why does the school superintendent continue to gloss over gang issues when they continue to hit them square in the jaw? An arrest was made right in front of the high school yesterday in front of scores of students! What was that all about?

    This is a new forum for me, God bless free speech and I hope I hit the right button to send this.
    Keep up the great work, frazgo!
    rats, the helicopters are back…

  2. Rosemary, thanks for the comments. I liked the bit at the end “God bless free speech and I hope I hit the right button to send this.”. It was a good light hearted bit that was needed as you are correct, this is a horrendous situation that affects all communities in the area. It doesn’t recognize city limits and all need to be involved…and not just the citizens, but the local officials through out the area.

  3. Who noticed the outrage and shock apparent at the meeting that was held at Annunciation? When the questions were asked,”How large is the population of the unincorporated section of Monrovia? AND how many units (patrols) are allocated for that area?”

    It was clear that most people had no idea, except for maybe the people who live there and who have called, only to receive little, late, or no response from patrols. ONE car. One.
    Not stirring the hornets’ nest here, but informed people are powerful people. Call and write and communicate with the people who control the money, who decide where it goes…elected officials.
    Gather as much information as you can, as all newspapers and media have some bias..go to the meetings, call the schools and city offices…find out. Put your body in action and use your anger to CHANGE something. Complaining alone won’t do it.
    Humans don’t tend to do anything until it affects us personally…that doesn’t make us BAD or uncaring, it makes us HUMAN…So if it is affecting you ,and angers you, call and write. Show up.
    Stop growing new gang members…remember, people in gangs do so sometimes because it is connection, like a family a very bonded brotherhood of sorts…gangs members will die for one another and while it make no sense to you, the community they receive by belonging in the first place has to be replaced with better options, starting aimed at the very young. The fourteen year old living in a gang infested area has little choice, ask him…he’ll tell you of having to make a choice…and what surrounds him everyday when he tries to go to school. He/she is a target. It starts young. Saying “Oh so the people shot had GANG affiliations so they got what they deserve” is wrong thinking, and cruel. It is more wide spread than you might think…and affects a huge portion of our population. The pain is just as real for the families that buried a son or daughter. (And getting out of a gang is very very difficult and dangerous.) It’s like saying of someone’s suicide attempt, “OH they weren’t really serious…it was JUST a cry for help.” If someone is willing to do themselves or others serious harm to get help,THEN THEY NEED THE HELP. (The only way to validate the wrong thinking that surrounds this is absurd. Had someone one been “serious enough” they would have DIED. I guess that “proof” makes it something we can then ignore and hope goes away?!) No one wants their child to be the “poster child” for an end to gang violence…how you can know this: Right now, pick one of your children to be the face of the “stop violence” issue. It will always hurt, and eventually people forget. No parent would give up a child to this, and people need help to GET out of this. Monrovia officials/police need help. We can’t fix this overnight. Gangs have been present forever, and it’s not over yet.
    I’m seeing a lot more patrols and police presence..aren’t you? Paying attention and asking questions works. Keep it up.

  4. Thanks Monrovia Pride. I won’t stop and they can’t make me. I won’t stop reporting what I see. I won’t regurgitate press releases. I will ask questions, I will make certain that the larger community directly affected and those in the metro will learn that we can stand up to it all and just say NO.

    I do it because I care. I do it as my philosophy has always been “better the doorman than a doormat”.

  5. I grew up in no man’s land, though they have called it that since I was a kid. I lived behind the apartments but our street was entered from myrtle ave. As far as the one patrol car, that is all there has ever been. Older people on our street almost died quite a few times because paramedics would fight on who was coming. At the time it was elmonte or irwindale which is all the way by santa fe dam. And dare you need the police to come, ha ha that took even longer cuz they were coming from rosemead ave. So really I can’t think of to much that is happening in temple city that the area not considered to be monrovia can’t get a few more parol cars around.I do remember at one time it was this bad, a guy I knew got shot on peck and it was this same issue between the two and that was around 89-91 maybe.

  6. I grew up in no man’s land, though they have called it that since I was a kid. I lived behind the apartments but our street was entered from myrtle ave. As far as the one patrol car, that is all there has ever been. Older people on our street almost died quite a few times because paramedics would fight on who was coming. At the time it was elmonte or irwindale which is all the way by santa fe dam. And dare you need the police to come, ha ha that took even longer cuz they were coming from rosemead ave. So really I can’t think of to much that is happening in temple city that the area not considered to be monrovia can’t get a few more parol cars around.I do remember at one time it was this bad, a guy I knew got shot on peck and it was this same issue between the two and that was around 89-91 maybe.

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