Posted in Around Town

A Sore Sight for Eyes

A major graffiti deposit this past weekend at the northeast corner of Lincoln and Montana. So disheartening I lost my verbs. Very disheartening in light of the recent violence in Pasadena.

I took a photo of the graffiti, but if I post it, it’s like they win. So I’m not gonna. Suffice it to say it was from the same gang that has tagged this part of Northwest Pasadena for at least the last 20 years.

I wish graffiti could get painted out immediately, but that is not the case. This morning the guy from the city’s painting crew was out in front of the building getting contact information for the tenant (a church). He said he has to contact them before painting. So the festering sore remains, and will remain until the proper contacts are made.

If you’re local and want to see it for yourself, here’s a map:

[ Yahoo! Maps ]

Map of the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Montana

The painting guy told me that there are some buildings he paints just about every day. He said graffiti is a misdemeanor, so no one is really worried about the consequences. He thinks that most graffiti is done by kids, out running around all night. He was in favor of going after the parents of these kids.

The folks over at the Pasadena Star-News have a page on their website: To Stop the Killing, a community forum to bring peace and reconciliation to the community.

A welcome dollop of helpful suggestions are in this article written by a Pasadena native who has worked with gang members. In the article, he bemoans what he sees as a lack of support for the guys who are working hard to keep kids from killing other kids.

As a onetime gang member, youth counselor and now (through a later mistake) an inmate of a California state prison, I offer you some free advice, which has proven to work in preventing bloodshed.

* Start seriously supporting the few individuals out there risking their lives to help these kids and the community, not just the traditional Band-Aid organizations.

* Organize these kids and their parents (along with neighborhood residents) and let them express their fears and concerns before the City Council. Demand that people like Tim Rhambo, Charles White and Mr. Mitchell get the resources they need. Storm in if you have to! If that doesn’t work, picket and rally in front of City Hall until they get the message that enough is enough!

* Create a grassroots network in the neighborhoods of people who want to get involved and protect their kids by finding solutions. This network must be comprised of Latinos and African-Americans who know the streets.

* Select mediators between neighborhoods and City Hall to implement the solutions developed by the networks.

* Leave out of the equation law enforcement, courts, the probation department, schools and all the phony nonprofit agencies, because all you will get is lip service and more “dialogue.”

* Set up sporting events with incentives for gang members. Through experience I know these kids will not show up if they know these are city-sponsored recreational events. I put together handball, football and basketball tournaments and these guys came to play every time. This is the perfect place to reach out to these young people.

* Lastly, pull the covers off those who have power and influence to help, but have refused. Let the kids and parents know why they are unable to help.

Just because I am in prison doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about. These are not your traditional approaches. But the fact is traditional approaches have failed time after time over the past decade.

In several years I will return home and I plan to continue the work that I so dearly love — helping save lives and keeping kids from killing other kids.

If anyone is serious about preventing the violence that is plaguing our neighborhoods, contact me. If anyone knows what will and won’t work, it is guys like me.

A former Weekly columnist and a Pasadena-area gang counselor, Andres Romero was convicted of a drug-related attempted robbery and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Contact him care of or write to Andres Romero, V54733, C.R.C. 211-87, PO Box 3535, Norco, Calif., 92860.

The guys out in the street deserve our support. That support includes vetting them to ensure they are good guys. Sadly for Pasadena, some guys parading as good guys are just the opposite. (Co-founder recalls warning signs of The Movement.)