Echo Park has been the unwitting setting of two high-profile, irredeemably tragic violent crimes in the past sixty days--the senseless, crippling beating of Giants fan Bryan Stow on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, and the senseless killing of Trader Joe's Hyperion employee Micky David.
Two weeks ago, under mounting media pressure, the Los Angeles Police Department announced false "breakthoughs" on both cases. The LAPD had incarcerated--without accusing--a gangster, Giovanni Ramirez, associated with the beating of Stow, and arrested--as an accomplice, but not the killer--another gangster, Jeffrey Cardona, involved in the killing of David.
But now the trails are growing colder, the defenses are mounting, and truly, after a surfeit of posturings and polygraph tests, we still have no idea who actually perpetrated either of these crimes.
What has already been celebrated as crime-solving, is in truth an enormous black eye on the LAPD--and also on the lackluster involvement of Councilman Ed Reyes.
There was a time when Councilman Reyes used to conduct community meetings when gang violence became a problem to a neighborhood. In earlier years, Reyes brought the communities of Westlake and Pico Union together, conducting meetings that attuned the beleaguered residents to the possibility that if they came together and stood up to crime, they could beat crime down.
But Reyes' office has yet to conduct a single community meeting on either of these high profile crimes. Nor has a single civic official yet breathed the words "hate crime" in conjunction with either of these tragic events. Yet both were assaults in a neighborhood in which tensions between recently arrived Anglos and disenfranchised Latinos are manifest.
The community of Echo Park should not be placated by the arrests of Ramirez and Cardona. Nor should Echo Park be encouraged by the fact that heinous crimes have occured in the neighborhood, and many of the perpetrators yet remain free.
Has Councilman Reyes gone soft on gangs? On crime? Why is he not more engaged with the community? Where is the leadership in the wake of these very troubling crimes?