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EDITORIAL SAVE THE MURALS THIS PIECE OF L.A.'S SOUL IS LATEST CASUALTY IN ESCALATING GANG ACTIVITY.

LOS Angeles is a city of murals. Along the freeways, on the sides of buildings and even along the city's namesake river are colorful renditions of L.A.'s cultural life.

But this important part of the city's cultural identity is being destroyed by widespread tagging, a product of the escalating gang activity across the city.

The destruction of the city's murals is not the most serious effect of gang activity, but is perhaps the one that affects the most people.

Many Angelenos live in neighborhoods free from gang warfare and the shootings and killings they produce, and therefore the statistics don't mean much to them. But the defacement of the murals is something evident to many.

Millions of eyes see these murals every day. And when the pleasing images of L.A's history are covered up with the communications of rival gangsters, it pierces everyone who passes by with a sliver of despair.

What it tells people is that the city has failed for decades to get a handle on the gangs and the cultural and economic forces that perpetuate them. The bad guys are winning, and this is one piece of evidence.

The least city leaders can do is to restore the murals, and encourage the various communities to protect their own pieces of public art. It might seem like a futile gesture when they are likely to be spray-painted over again, but it's not.

We must save the city's murals, and in so doing, that piece of the city's soul.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 9, 2007
Words:253
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