Duarte and Monrovia Residents Rally for End to Violence

The rally was in response to recent shootings in Duarte and in the unincorporated areas bordering it.

Johnnie Lee Youngblood lives in Las Vegas now, but his hometown of Duarte has stayed in his heart.

He networks with friends he grew up and went to Duarte High School with through Facebook to stay close to home, so when he heard about a recent spate of shootings in the community, he felt compelled to do something.

The result was the Enough is Enough Peace Rally Saturday he helped to organize at the football stadium at Duarte High.

"We need to do something different," he said. "We need to reach out to these children because that is who is getting killed out here, the children. All they need is somebody to tell them they care, somebody to reach out and tell them you can do more than this. They need opportunity."

About 50 people turned up the event, which also included a fundraiser for the families of shooting victims.

The first of the three Duarte shootings took place about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 22 Eighteen-year-old Malcom Mency was gunned down and died in the 2000 block of Broderick Avenue, Grubb said. The father of a one-month-old son had walked home after working a shift at a nearby Sonic Drive-In.

Around 3 p.m. that same day, an unidentified man was wounded by a shot to the lower back on his front yard in the Mt. Olive Drive and Bloomfield Street area. His current condition was unknown.

A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in Duarte on Dec. 23 in what authorities have said appeared to be a gang-related shooting.

On Dec. 29, Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies shot and wounded two men after a chase that started in Duarte and ended in the unincorporated area at El Toro Road and Van Meter Street. One of the suspects had a gun, authorities said.

Julia Alvarez, a friend and classmate of Youngblood's, helped organize the rally. The event was sponsored by a volunteer organization she is a part of, the League of United Latin American Citizens.

"I love this city," she said after the rally. "It means a lot to me."

Alvarez said she feels some of the recent violence is related to racial tensions between black and Latino gangs. She said growing up in the area, she was aware that those tensions existed, but all of her peers in the neighborhood got along well.

"It gets me so angry to hear that an innocent person got shot for being brown," she said. "It's stupid. These things need to come to an end. As a grown up community, we are tired of it."

Residents from Duarte and Monrovia and representatives from the faith community spoke at the rally, calling for an end to violence and more involvement from the business community and others to mentor youth and help keep them off the streets.

David Hall, president of the Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte Town Council, spoke at the event. The council is a formal advisory group to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that represents residents of unincorporated areas near the three cities.

Hall, an elder at All Nations Church, called for unity and said peace is only possible if God is a part of the effort.

"We have to stop pointing fingers and start doing positive things in our community," he said. "These young people are dying for no reason at all. We can stop that. We must take the responsibility as a community. This is not about color. This is not about age."

The business community could help as well by providing youth with job training and trade skills programs, he added.

Henry Baltazar, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said some in the city felt that the rally was a waste of time or too soon after the shootings, but he disagreed that action can wait. He said that the community needs to look at the root causes of the recent problems and come up with solutions as soon as possible.

"You cannot heal a wound if you do not stop the bleeding, and right now Duarte is bleeding," he said. "We cannot rely on law enforcement as they can not be everywhere and we as a city...do not have the budget to hire a cop to stand on every corner. What we do have is 22,000 residents that can join together and find solutions to help fix the problems that plague our city and make it bleed. If we can do that, we can stop the violence."

Duarte Mayor Liz Reilly said before the rally started that crime had been down 30 percent in the city prior to the recent shootings. That is a sign that "something is boiling over," she said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has increased patrols in the city and in the unincorporated areas surrounding Duarte, Reilly said.

The city needs to make sure programs are in place to support the effort for peace that involve working with parents and giving children a strong foundation in faith to avoid temptations, she said.

"We need to bring the community together, we need to support the grieving families, and we need to plan for the future," she said. "If the community is strong, the community can prevent more violence."
Gem City Dude Man January 05, 2014 at 01:04 PM
As long as our citizens continue to allow our nation's once great democracy to deteriorate because of rulings like Citizens United, Crony Capitalism will continue to dominate our country's economic policies and keep funneling more and more $$ to those at the top. Top down economics has not worked and we will see many more of our communities go the way of Detroit, and as they deteriorate we will see violence like this increase. In the Times Business Section today an article describes the "shake down" American Corporations use to channel 50 billion a year of our tax dollars away from social needs to corporations who do not need the $$. The majority of our citizens are totally unaware of this "Extortion" that corporations are committing against our society. As long as our citizens remain silent in our political process you can expect nothing to change as our society plunges into the depths of poverty.
Bill C. January 05, 2014 at 02:13 PM
Too bad nothing you said has a thing to do with what's going on in Duarte but at least you got to say it.
ronald pierce January 05, 2014 at 03:36 PM
The same old blather! The Children! Children??? What clap trap! Gangs, and the young thugs who run them, are the problem. RICO (the law dealing with Racketeer Influenced and Organized Crime Organizations) is the answer. Under the law… prove that the gang in question is a criminal organization… then arrest anyone who belongs to the gang… and send him or her to prison for several years. Destroy the gangs and end the problem. This nonsense about more this and more that is ridiculous. This problem will still be going on twenty years from now and the same old tired lefties will still be coming out with the same old tired “Progressive” rhetoric. Get Real!!!
Gem City Dude Man January 07, 2014 at 07:47 AM
So, just what has this economic and political system done for the the middle and poor classes of Americans? Thats right, nothing. We incarcerate more people than any country in the world. Has that worked? We have the biggest economic inequality in our nation's history. Corruption in our nation's capital is said to be,"systemic,epidemic, and total." So called, Free Market Global Capitalism, has lead to the corporate monopolization of every sector of the economy, and is destroying the middle class. The concentration of wealth at the top is not trickling down to the rest of us, and is also concentrating political and government power into the hands of the few. Opportunities for upward mobility, getting an education, and getting a decent job with an actual living wage is becoming less and less. The economic and political policies of our country have everything to do with crime.
Gem City Dude Man January 08, 2014 at 07:59 AM
You do the the crime, you do the time, unless you work on Wall Street. However, I think their are obvious connections between economic opportunities and the level of crime. The real question is, what kind of society do the citizens of this country want? Now the issue becomes can the citizens voice that change through our political process. Based on the the current political landscape that is becoming more of a challenge as the wealthy elite and their corporate special interest supporters make the political process all about campaign $$ and who has the most of it. Clearly, the current process is not working for the majority of Americans as our nation's democracy is being undermined by fewer choices as candidates are under the control of those who have the $$ to fund and thus dominate the election. It also does not help the process that the news media is also under the control of those who have all the cash as well. As FDR said, "When government becomes controlled by private $$ you have fascism." If we really had a capitalist economic system, how do we have too big to fail? Why do we have corporate welfare? Why do we have monopolies in every business sector? This is the competition and accountability that the private sector throws in our face every chance they get?


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