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RALLY FOR PEACE MARCH RAISES AWARENESS OF GANG VIOLENCE.

Byline: Adolfo Flores

Staff Writer

EXPOSITION PARK - Having lost a son 11 years ago to gang violence, Gloria Montana engulfs herself in the fight against gangs in Los Angeles.

Wearing sunglasses and a shirt with an image of her son Phillip Shaw at an anti-gang march Saturday in Exposition Park, she said that no parent should ever have to go through her pain.

"I try to stay involved so that another parent won't have to go through losing a child," the 54-year-old Gardena woman said.

Montana was one of many parents, families and friends who have lost loved ones to gang violence who participated in the "March for Kids," staged by A Better LA and Unity One. Los Angeles police estimated the crowd size at 400.

The participants gathered in front of Memorial Coliseum with signs reading "LA LivePeace" and banners with pictures of deceased loved ones.

"What do we want? Peace. When do we want it? Now," screamed the marchers as they took to the streets and headed toward the inside of the Coliseum.

"We're trying to bring awareness to the problem and we have to unify as a people to get the job done," said Aquil Basheer, who works with a gang intervention program and helped organize the event.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief of Detectives Charlie Beck said gangs are a problem that the entire community needs to work together to tackle.

"This is about generating community will to change the situation that is resulting in gang violence being the number one cause of death for young men in our community," Beck said.

Another activist in the fight against gangs, William "Blinky" Rodriguez believes it's not enough to just arrest gang members, but it is necessary to rehabilitate them into society. Otherwise the cycle of violence continues.

Rodriguez lost his son, Sonny, in a 1990 drive-by shooting.

"I had a son murdered, I had to go to the Holy Cross Hospital, I had to identify the body," he said.

"But I'm not unique. Isn't that a pathetic statement?"

In the past 10 years L.A. County has lost 280 people in natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and fires, Sheriff Lee Baca said.

"But to gang violence it's 5,800 deaths," he said. "If that's not an emergency I don't know what is."

Baca also realizes the importance of integrating people into society once they serve their time in jail, because otherwise they end up back in the same cell five years later.

"We have to reinvent our system so education is the key," Baca said. "Our goal is to not let someone out less prepared than when they came in."

adolfo.flores@dailynews.com

818-713-3738

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4 photos

Photo:

(1 -- 3) At top, community leaders gather at an anti-gang march and rally Saturday morning. From left, civil rights attorney Connie Rice, USC head football coach Pete Carroll, Alex Sanchez of Homies Unidos, William "Blinky" Rodriguez of Communities in Schools, Bob Taylor of Unity One and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. At left and below, demonstrators participate in the peace march outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

(4) USC head football coach Pete Carroll embraces Jamiel Shaw, whose son, Jamiel Jr., was slain earlier this year by a gang member, during the March for Kids walk and rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday morning.

Evan Yee/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 3, 2008
Words:565
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