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Civil Rights Leaders Call for 24-Hour Ceasefire on Killings

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Photo by Patrick J. Dodson via Flickr

Photo by Patrick J. Dodson via Flickr
The weekend left five dead in separate shootings, but one in particular caught the attention of civil rights leaders in the Hyde Park neighborhood of South LA. 17 year-old Brandon Jamal Perry was shot in the face after an occupant stepped out of a vehicle with a rifle and began shooting at him and others standing in front of a house late Saturday night. Three others were injured, but Perry died at the hospital.

This morning, leaders gathered to call for a 24-hour ceasefire on killings. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, President of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, knows that the call won't necessarily stop violence, but should bring a dialogue, a presence and an effort seen and felt on the streets that will hopefully lesson the tension in the community. "If somebody's going to kill someone, they are going to do that no matter what," he said over the phone.

For the last three months, Hutchinson and others have seen an uptick in violence by a few waring gangs in the Hyde Park area. Issues between rival gangs beget violence, such as Saturday night's incident, which has beget a major mediation effort. The Ceasefire Coalition meets tomorrow night (and weekly) and aims to bring youth together for dialogue in addition to counseling and skills services.

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"You can talk to them, preach to them all day about staying out of gangs, but you've got to give them something," Hutchinson explained, noting the lack of summer school and job programs cut due the economy. "Now you have, more than ever, young people on the streets with nothing to do and no where to go. I can't say this recent spike up [in neighborhood violence] is directly related to that, but my guts tells me it may be."

The last time Los Angeles held a moratorium on killings was on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 2008.