Education Gangs LAUSD

Our Battle-weary Children


WitnessLA commenter, Poplock
, said something interesting and unsettling in an earlier thread about Santee high school. He described the murders he’d seen as a child. “The first killing in front of my eyes was at age 8,” he wrote, “second one – around 12, and third at 15, the forth by 17 and so on and so on….Imagine that, I wasn’t even a gang banger…”

It was a reminder to me of something of which those of us who work in the inner city have long been aware, but that public policy has been disastrously content to ignore, and that is the fact that a great many kids living in urban neighborhoods—in Los Angeles and elsewhere—are suffering, to a greater or lesser degree, from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

By sheer luck, Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle
has an excellent and extremely well-written group of articles by staff writer, Jill Tucker, on just that subject—and what she has documented must not be ignored.

Here’s how the main story begins:

Tierra Turner’s older brother was shot and killed on a busy Bayview street last summer.

By the time Tierra, 11, arrived at the scene with her mother, a yellow tarp covered 18-year-old Anthony Brooks’ body. Nearby, a second tarp covered his friend, Monte Frierson.

Standing outside the police tape, Tierra broke down, her small body heaving with sobs.
Two weeks later, Tierra started the sixth grade.

Along with a Tinker Bell backpack and pink Princess cell phone, she carried the deaths with her to Visitacion Valley Middle School each day, absentmindedly writing “RIP Ant and Monte” on the cover of her notebooks and in sidewalk chalk on the playground. As the months passed, her grades slipped and her temper often flared.

At her school, the principal and staff see the signs and symptoms of trauma-related stress in many of their students – the hostile outbursts, the sliding grades, the poor test scores or the inability to pay attention

But here’s the money ‘graph:

“As many as one-third of children living in our country’s violent urban neighborhoods have PTSD,” according to recent research and the country’s top child trauma experts – nearly twice the rate reported for troops returning from war zones in Iraq.

In a related article, Tucker talks to a PTSD researcher at Stanford who has looked at the damage trauma can do to brain development.

What Dr. Victor Carrion found was startling: Children with PTSD and exposure to severe trauma had smaller brains.

The study, released earlier this year, was just a first step toward understanding the physical effects of trauma and why some children have a greater ability to ward off physical and mental reactions.

Although she’s an SF writer, Tucker gets into LAUSD’s
Post Traumatic Stress problem. It seems that, a few years back, some LAUSD psychologists wondered if LA’s urban kids suffered from PTSD at the same rate that the national experts were claiming. Here’s what they found:

In 2000, [LAUSD] joined UCLA researchers in screening students from 20 schools in violence-prone parts of the city.
Of the 1,000 students randomly selected, 90 percent were a victim of or a witness to community violence, and 27 to 34 percent had PTSD, said Marleen Wong, director of the district’s Crisis Counseling and Intervention Services.

Read the rest of this important, informative series.. The issue of PTSD in America’s children and adolescents is a essential piece of the educational and public health puzzle that we leave out at our own peril.

NOTE: More Voices from the Road in a day or two. For the moment, I’m perched one place—namely the ever-glorious West Glacier, MT—but as it’s a vacation destination, as they say, the road is coming to me, so I’m still actively gathering voices.


  • Tragic. Government will not solve this. Quit wasting time and allowing more deaths waiting for them to do it.

    Parents need to do what is necessary to get out of those neighborhoods–now. If illegals can cross the border and set up all over the country, there should be some way to take a bus out of the inner city and into safe areas.

  • P.S. I really don’t want to get too personal, but if poplock witnessed four murders him by the time that he was age seventeen, why did his parent(s) hang around? I’d be our of there after the first one.

  • In total, we moved three times until we found peace. Low income families just cant get up and leave after being in a house 2-3 years. Not until my father landed a government public worker’s job were we able to move and afford a better area. Today, even that area is going to crap.
    This does not exclude you from going out on a normal weekend and getting stuck as a witness in a shooting or getting hit by some drunk driver.
    Everytime I take money out of the ATM, I have my gun locked and loaded.

  • It just seems absurd that our young males growing up in inner city US neighborhoods are statistically less safe from bullets and prison then our soldiers in IRAQ.

    Frankly I want to blame various policies and people for this state of affairs, but I will refrain while reflecting on the affect it has on the witnesses of the carnage.

    As families, try to escape, they often bring the problems with them as evidenced by the shooting of grandmothers this week in Hesperia and Pico Rivera by gang members.

    “A 65-year-old grandmother was shot and killed Thursday after a confrontation over graffiti in Hesperia.”

    “She was just trying to stop a tagger from marking her neighborhood. Now a 58-year-old Pico Rivera grandmother is dead.”

  • Pokey says ………

    It just seems absurd that our young males growing up in inner city US neighborhoods are statistically less safe from bullets and prison then our soldiers in IRAQ.


    The soldiers are in Iraq are being put in prison?

  • poplock: “Everytime I take money out of the ATM, I have my gun locked and loaded.”

    You need to change where you bank.

    Knowing what you have learned over your life, why do you keep returning to those bad areas?

  • I am the ATM located in the Rampart area Police station, you can come visit me anytime 24hrs a day. But do not have your gun locked and loaded you might get killed by the cops.

    You can also vist my cousins at every poliec station in Los Angeles.

  • Woody, funny Poplock should bring that up. When people learn that I write about gangs, there is the inevitable dinner party question, “Don’t you get scared going into those neighborhoods?” And my reply, which is entirely truthful, is that I’m far more jittery every time I go to my local ready teller after dark. And my closest ready teller is in Woodland Hills, CA, a nice upscale community. But it’s right next to a freeway entrance so….

    Maybe I should take P.S. ATM up on his suggestion, and start using the ready teller at the West Valley division. But that seems extreme. (And don’t worry, I’m not locked and loaded. Although, should I ever move to Montana—which on gorgeous days like today seems like a swell idea— its practically a requirement for state residency.)

  • Celeste, it’s not the country club duffer with an eight iron that you have to worry about sneaking up on you. It’s many of the people from the gang areas where you say that you feel safer–at least in the day.

    One time I was in Washington D.C. and decided to take a “short cut” late at night and got lost. I ended up in some horrible neighborhood with strange people running all around and unwatched little kids on the loose–and, this was after 11:00 at night. I saw a gas station and thought about asking for directions, but, from the looks of everyone around it, I decided better. You can’t possibly compare an image like that to pulling up to an ATM in an upscale shopping district.

    If poplock should change his bank, you need to change when you bank.

  • Celeste, we know you’re not naive, but it’s that kind of ultra – PC – liberal comment that might make it sound so to someone hearing you for the first time. All you have to do is look at any LAPD Homocide Report, or the Homicide Map in the LAT blog, to see that South Central and a few other pockets have the vast majority of murders, and armed robberies. To claim some areas aren’t inherently more dangerous is false. Even if you’re less likely to be a murder target because you’re outside the gang culture.

    However, I’ll agree with you up to this point: you DO have to be on alert in any part of the city, since gangs are fanning out including targeting old people on the westside who walk home from ATM’s, or people in gas stations in “nice” areas. It’s when you let your guard down that you’re in a “safe” area that things can happen. As a former New Yorker, I learned all too well the merits of always watching your valuables, how you hold your purse, a purposeful walk and all the rest of living in a city where the guy behind you might be a mugger or worse.

  • You see, Maggie knows exactly what I’m talking about. No matter where you go in LA County something is going to crack. That goes for Orange County too. Orange County is becoming famous for bank robberies and its not LA people going over and doing them. Its their own. Crime has no boundaries.
    Woody, you should know better than making that type of comment. Are you not a Conservative and a die hard Republican?
    Every American has the right to walk, jog, shop, and take a midnight stroll down any US street 24/7.
    Actually, I do walk in and use the ATM at the LAPD stations all the time. I can ease up and not have pay the $1.50-$2.00 ATM fees, its my Credit Union ATM.

  • Maggie, of course you’re right that the inner city neighborhoods are far more dangerous.

    But, as I’m more habitually alert and watchful in those areas, thus, in a strange way, relaxed. I don’t pretend that my Woodland Hills ready teller phobia is entirely rational, but there you have it. (Fortunately, it doesn’t extend beyond the ATM to my local Target store, or the Trader Joe’s.)

  • Ms. Fremon, I read a handful of the attacks that this guy, T. Rafael, posted against you and Father-G.
    Aside from being a straight dumb ass and someone Ive never heard about among the LA LE Community, who is this guy…
    Is he Latino or white?
    I cant believe he put up a blog to steal information and stories from everyone (that he really hates and badmouths) and used it all to publish a book.

  • poplock: “Every American has the right to walk, jog, shop, and take a midnight stroll down any US street 24/7.”

    poplock, it was more than that. When you see groups of 3, 4, or 5 men circled up exchanging envelopes and looking over their shoulders while the kids are running all over the streets, when regular people are in bed, you figure that something is not right.

    I may have shared this with Celeste, but a client of mine owned a black nightclub and owed me money. He kept missing appointments and didn’t really get opened until around midnight for me to meet him. One night after doing tax returns late, I drove by his club about 1:30 in the morning, and it was packed. I mean really packed. Cars were parked in all the surrounding shopping center lots to go to his club. I figured that if I wanted my money, this would be a great time. I pulled in the parking lot. Got out and walked to the door. I was the only white guy (you didn’t know that I was white?) within a mile. Everyone looked at me as if I was totally nuts and it sure got quiet. As I approached the door, the door security had a strange look on his face and asked if I needed some help. At that moment, the owner saw me at the door and came out to greet me. We walked through the club, he paid me, we walked back, and he invited me to stay and dance. I think that he knew better. I didn’t know those songs. I walked back to the car and went home. I never had any fear, really, because I figured that they thought that I was a cop or just a nut to avoid. They were right on the second count.

  • BTW, we need to stay somewhat on topic.

    I was suggesting that people get the hell out of Dodge, but Pokey implied that the bad guys would follow them out of town. In the Atlanta area, we’ve seen a lot of successful blacks move further out just to get away from the trash. Heck, the blacks who live around me make twenty times what I do–and, that doesn’t mean that I do all that bad. But, we now see more people who we don’t know driving through the neighborhood and I’ve heard about burglaries, which we had never had.

    I guess crime follows money, so improving living conditions by moving may only be a temporary fix until you can move again.

  • I don’t recall writing a letter for a job opening or my reasons for taking such action if I did. However, I heard a rumor that eight people in the firm may have to submit their resignations so that we can pursue people more loyal to us.

  • Poplock said…….
    You see, Maggie knows exactly what I’m talking about. No matter where you go in LA County something is going to crack. That goes for Orange County too. Orange County is becoming famous for bank robberies and its not LA people going over and doing them. Its their own. Crime has no boundaries.


    Keep it real, do you really think you need to be in fear using an ATM machine in Irvine or Mission Viejo (famous for bank robbery)? If you are worried about being robbed at an ATM in those areas of Orange County you are either suffering from PTSD or just plain paranoia. I would not be afraid to walk anywhere in Irvine with $100 bills hanging out of my back pocket at 2:00am. The difference between South Central Los Angeles and Irvine are as wide as the Pacific Ocean.

    You were asking about Tony Rafael, he has recently written a book on the Mexican Mafia, in my opinion he exaggerates the influence and control the Mexican Mafia (EME) has over the latino (sureno) street gangs of Los Angeles. But the Mexican Mafia members are definitely the most violent sociopaths of all the Latino gangsters (cholos). He almost implies the Mexican Mafia (EME) decides every shooting by every cholo on the streets, anybody in the know, is aware that lots of gang shootings are an impulsive reaction. For example a gangster is at a bar and you meet a rival and you feel he has disrespected you, a shooting is going to happen in the parking lot. A group of drunken cholos are not going to call EME leaders at Pelican Bay prison and ask permission to shoot a rival.

    Tony Rafael has not berated or criticized Father Boyle, or Celeste although he has criticized Tom Hayden. If you read Tony Rafael (Wally’s) blog he mentioned Father Boyle in the past did not recognize the control EME has over sureno gangs but he also gave quotes in which Father Boyle has now acknowledge the control and influence EME has over hundreds of sureno gangs. And I don’t ever remember seeing Celeste’s name ever mentioned in Tony Rafael’s InTheHat Blog. He has often complimented the L.A. weekly reporters for their stories, such as the Avenues gang RICO indictments, which is extensively covered (almost to boredom) in his book .

    Tony Rafael has talked about what a low life Hector Marroquin is and referenced the L.A. weekly stories, I don’t think anybody disagrees with that assessment of Marroquin. Tony Rafael has often written about the dangers of using life time gang members as gang counselors. I would have to agree with that statement I would never want a “reformed” career gangster to be the role model or counselor of any school kids.

    Tony Rafael’s book will probably scare the average reader who is not aware of the existence of prison gangs (EME) and their ties to Latino (sureno) gangs on the streets. But this is probably what it takes for the average person to take notice of the gang problems in Los Angeles. There are times you have to shock somebody to get their attention.

  • I’m sorry to tell you this LA Resident, but your thinking is exactly what I hear criminals say all the time. They blab about hitting a place and an area where the people are so stupid, airheaded, and naive (not saying that your one of them -okay). A perfect criminal shopping spree…..
    If areas like Mission Viejo and Irvine are relaxed and happy go lucky, why do they cry over illegals…

    LA Resident …….let me correct you brother resident man. Rafael indeed badmouthed and berated Ms. Fremon more than once on that blog. He tag-teamed on Father G and Ms. Fremon more than once. You need to read a little more senor.

    I agree that certain organizations promoting the gang couseling services need to be abolished. I would go into telling you all the dirt but its not for disclosure. I have more dirt on them than even Wally or Ms. Fremon put together.

  • If areas like Mission Viejo and Irvine are relaxed and happy go lucky, why do they cry over illegals… (Is this a rhetorical question ?)

    let me correct you brother resident man. Rafael indeed badmouthed and berated Ms. Fremon more than once on that blog. He tag-teamed on Father G and Ms. Fremon more than once


    The first question would require me to almost write a book to properly answer. But a super condensed version is that upper–middle class whites in Orange County read the newspaper and watch the news. They know about the usual illegal issues, illegal aliens in jails, cost of proving free health care for illegal aliens, cost of providing an education for kids of illegal aliens and etc. And of course many have an illegal alien house keeper and illegal alien gardener or drive over to Home Depot to pick a worker for the day . I am absolutely sure you already know all this and much more.

    Ok , I went back to Tony Rafael’s blog and searched “Fremon” and found this. (What did we do before computers and the internet?) Unfortunately I could not find Celeste’s L.A. Times story. And yes Tony Rafael also said Father Boyle is too liberal and has the “hug a thug” mentality, but never put him or Marroquin in the same category of anti-gang activists/counselors. Link below for anybody who wants to read the whole enchilada.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2003

    In what’s by now a familiar pattern for CELESTE FREMON, freelancer for the LA WEEKLY, she’s created another pious tract about a good kid gone bad, and then tries to go good again and then ends up killing somebody. The subject this time is ROBERT LEON, who went by the name of CRAZY ACE or LOCO. According to her, he had climbed up the gang ladder and became a shot caller at the age of 17. He was with TMC (THE MOB CREW) a BOYLE HEIGHTS gang. We don’t have links to her piece but if you log on to LATIMES.COM and do a search under her name, you’ll be directed to it.

    After spending 4.5 years in prison, he gets out and tries to go straight, eventually working his way to a camera assistant job with some well-known film land DPs. And then he loses his job, has a fight with his girlfriend and ends up killing a guy in bar fight. Surely that happens to a lot of temporarily unemployed film people. He’s in county right now awaiting trial.

    FREMON ran a similar I-tried-to-get-out-but-they-kept-pulling-me-back-in piece some time ago in the WEEKLY. The subject of that piece was LEON’s boyhood pal, another TMC gangster by the name of ROMAN GONZALEZ. Unlike LEON, GONZALEZ was shot and killed by unknown gang rivals. She stated at that time, and again in the LA TIMES MAGAZINE piece, that “according to the rules of the street,” rival gangsters should have given ROMAN a pass due to his dropout status. Maybe those are the rules on SESAME STREET, but not the BARRIO streets. In FREMON’s world, gangs are supposed to abide by the GENEVA CONVENTION regarding non-combatants. According to the rules of the street as we know them, however, there’s no time outs or do-overs in the BARRIO. ROMAN had it coming because he had shot up and pissed off a whole lot of people. A little get-even was just a matter of time. Where she comes up with her weird “rules of the street” nonsense is beyond us. Nobody has ever heard of such a thing

    Thanks to their history of aggression and being always strapped, LEON and GONZALEZ are both bullet magnets. The fact that FREMON is surprised that GONZALEZ was assassinated indicates that she just doesn’t get the gangster mentality.

  • poplock Says:
    I agree that certain organizations promoting the gang couseling services need to be abolished. I would go into telling you all the dirt but its not for disclosure. I have more dirt on them than even Wally or Ms. Fremon put together.


    What kind of B.S. is this? Come on spill the frijoles, I promise I will keep this chisme to myself.

  • Ah, yes, Tony Rafael. I’ve always enjoyed the blog he created. In the Hat is, for the most part, entertaining and unusual. And he seems to have some genuine knowledge of a lot of the players in the early and mid years of the EME. (I honestly can’t say for sure, since my own knowledge of the EME is spotty, and mostly the product of very specific incidents of which I have anecdotal knowledge because of the folks I know who were either affected or involved….or the like.)

    What is irritating about Wally/Rafael or whatever his name really is, is that he pretends expertise he doesn’t in fact have, then uses tough guy posturing and half-knowledge to fill in the blanks.

    His various posts about me and my articles are a perfect example. He pretends to have superior, way-more-bad-ass information about the two murders about which I wrote. But frankly, he doesn’t know jack about the facts of either incident, both of which were complex, multi-faceted and tragic.

    In the case of Roman Gonzalez, I could make statements about the reasons behind his death—and the random illogic of it—because I knew the specific circumstances, and the players on both sides—the shooters and the victim—and their mothers, sisters, little brothers and girlfriends, childhood friends, and former enemies…and so on.

    What I wrote about in the one story he tries to criticize, was the far reaching effects of a single murder on a community. I could do so, because I’ve spent close to two decades in that community. This means, I’ve had the heartbreak of seeing kids who tumbled in and out of my car weekly to go get ice cream as ten year olds, then go off the rails in their teens (because they were young and angry and hormone filled, and there was no there there for them), and then one day shoot and kill someone else I knew and cared about—someone whom they’d known all their lives, shattering a series of lives in the process.

    But that sort of story doesn’t fit into Mr. Rafael’s badder-than-thou, black and white worldview, so he feels compelled to dismiss it.

    I notice Rafael finally shut up about me when some of his commenters posted a link to one of my LA Weekly columns on the jail riots, in which I talked (accurately) about the EME’s role in the whole mess when the official linea from the LASD was that there was no EME involvement.


    Okay, now I’m going back to vacation mode.

  • I started getting feed back from wide range of LE people, Rafael’s book is getting double thumbs down. He should have called it “The Stupid Avenues”.

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