Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gangland Bust in Venice

The LA Times ran a story this morning on a massive raid on the Shoreline Crips gang in Venice Beach.,0,4692262.story 300 LAPD, Feds, and state officials swept through the area, arresting 19 people and seizing weapons.

The area of Venice is Oakwood, or Ghost Town. It is bounded to the north by Rose, the south by California, the east by Lincoln, and the west by Abbot Kinney. "The slum by the sea" was once hostile gang territory with a demographic almost entirely made up by blacks and hispanics.

A massive gentrification has taken place in the past fifteen years. With Santa Monica becoming thoroughly bourgeois, edgier West siders moved south. Oakwood has been the last area to not thoroughly succumb to hip million dollar homes and boutiques. Dilapidated, chipped paint shacks share the block with cube shaped homes concealed with bamboo and stylized fences.

Oakwood park is the epicenter of Ghost Town. Several old timers drink malt liquor on the benchs in the north end of the park as beautiful 20 somethings participate in their kickball league. At the corner a handful of drug dealers peddle crack to passing cars.

LAPD said that the Shoreline Crips were controlling access to the park. This point I find dubious. I have used the park as a bike short cut many times. While the gang is a presence, they do not seem to control the park.

Perhaps this is a justification to clean up the neighborhood. There are still pockets of Venice (Broadway from 7th to 5th comes to mind) that truly resemble a slum. Blatant drug dealing is unquestionable.

Momentum is scrubbing "the slum by the sea" label off Venice.

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