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Pico Neighborhood Peace and Healing March to Take Place Tonight


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November 2, 2018 -- Twenty years ago, in the wake of what was likely the bloodiest spree of gang violence in Santa Monica history, more than 1,000 Pico Neighborhood residents took to the streets in a demonstration against youth violence.

On Friday -- which is celebrated as the Day of the Dead in Mexico and the U.S. -- the Pico Youth and Family Center (PYFC) will hold a march to mark the anniversary of the that demonstration.

The Procession for Peace and Healing -- which comes during a long lull in gang-related violence in the area -- will begin at 5:30 p.m. at 16th Street and Delaware Avenue.

It ends at St. Anne Catholic Church at 20th Street and Colorado Avenue, where there will be live music, a car show, altars and food to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, organizers said.

"The purpose is to call attention to the impact of violence and trauma on our community and to stand in solidarity with those directly impacted," said School Board member Oscar de la Torre, who runs the center.

"Twenty years ago on November 2 of 1998 we marched in a Vigil for Peace, and we invite students teachers and the community to join us in commemorating the largest march for peace in our community's history," he said.

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The original march de la Torre helped organize took place after gang violence flared in the fall of 1998 leading to a string of shootings that claimed five lives in two weeks and put Santa Monica on the crime map.

Much of the violence -- which resulted in 22 deaths on Pico Neighborhood streets between 1989 and 1998 -- was attributed to a longstanding rivalry between Culver City and Santa Monica gangs.

Today, gang violence in the Pico Neighborhood has all but disappeared, according to police.

"We haven't seen (gang violence) for several years," said Lt. Saul Rodriguez, the Police Department spokesman.

Gang activity "is very minimal," he said. "We've haven't had activity that is gang related in quite some time."

Earlier this month, there was a reminder that gang violence is not a thing of the past when seven shots were fired in what was once a gang riddled corner of the Pico Neighborhood.

There were no injuries, but fresh graffiti in the area tied the incident to a Culver City gang, police said ("Shooting Incident in Pico Neighborhood Wednesday Evokes Memories of Bloody Gang Wars," October 12, 2108).

For a look of the violence that gripped the Pico Neighborhood two decades ago see "Youth and Street Violence," December 7, 2004.


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