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Shooting Incident in Pico Neighborhood Wednesday Evokes Memories of Bloody Gang Wars
By Jorge Casuso
October 12, 2018 -- Seven shots were fired in what was once a gang riddled corner of the Pico Neighborhood, evoking memories of the bloody gang violence that gripped Santa Monica 20 years ago.
Officers responding to reports of shots fired at 3:36 a.m. near the corner of 18th Street and Michigan Avenue found seven spent shell casings, police said.
Officers also noticed fresh graffiti in the area tied to a Culver Ciiy gang.
The incident -- which led to no reported injuries -- comes after a long lull in gang-related violence in the area, said Oscar de la Torre, who heads the Pico Youth and Family Center.
The Pico Neighborhood gangs responsible for much of the violence, he said, "don't exist anymore."
"We have been experiencing low levels of gang activity for several years, but apparently we still have a serious threat," de la Torre said.
"Seven shots could be equal to seven deaths," he said. "This is a reminder that the City of Santa Monica must step up its efforts in addressing public safety."
Wednesday's incident took place in an area that witnessed Santa Monica's bloodiest gang violence ("PART III: Youth and Street Violence," December 7, 2004).
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.
The 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.
Following the sudden burst of violence, more than 1,000 Pico residents took to the streets, marching through the heart of the embattled neighborhood in the city’s largest demonstration against youth violence.
De la Torre, who helped organize the demonstration, said he is organizing a 20th anniversary march scheduled for November 2.
The march will begin at 6 p.m. at the corner of 16th Street and Delaware Avenue and end at St. Anne Catholic Church at 20th Street and Colorado Avenue.
"We'll be responding to the years of violence that have plagued our city and the Pico Neighborhood in particular," de la Torre said.
De la Torre believes the decline on gang-related violence doesn't mean youngsters are safe walking in the Pico Neighborhood, which is home to the largest concentrations of Latinos and Blacks in the predominantly white upscale city.
"If someone just looks like a gang member, they're shooting at them," de la Torre said. "The kids that are at risk are not necessarily gang members."
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