LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Youth football players and cheerleaders pleaded with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday afternoon to allow them to play another season at an East Los Angeles park despite alleged gang threats.
“Gloria Molina, please, please give us a chance and let us be who we are: The East L.A. Bobcats,” a little girl cried at the board meeting.
The Bobcats, which plays at Ruben F. Salazar Park, has been a staple in the community for nearly 50 years.
County officials, however, suspended the team’s permit to use the park after a 23-year-old man reportedly associated with the Bobcats fatally stabbed another man at a Monterey Park Shakey’s Pizza last October.
Investigators said the two men involved in the deadly altercation were part of rival gangs.
Sheriff’s detectives said they have information that points to a credible threat of possible retaliation against the team.
The county parks department has required the team to hire four off-duty deputies to stand guard at practices and games at a cost of more than $700 a day before the children are allowed to play again.
Parents, who said they can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars for security, told CBS2’s Randy Paige there has never been a threat to the players since the team was created and they don’t believe there’s a credible threat now.
Capt. Stephen Smith of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said children’s safety is at stake.
“I would say it’s not a safe environment for the kids without the proper safeguards,” he said.
Supervisor Gloria Molina agrees with Smith’s assessment that the kids could be in danger.
“So right now, we’re just not going to allow it to happen,” she said.