BOYLE HEIGHTS (CBSLA.com) — Boyle Heights residents gathered at a town hall meeting Wednesday night following firebomb attacks on four homes at a local public housing development.
KCAL9’s Dave Bryan reports residents voiced strong opinions at the meeting amid growing fears the attacks at the Ramona Gardens housing project could rekindle racial tension.
Police and fire officials called Wednesday’s meeting after neighbors expressed concerns that African-Americans live in three of the four units that were attacked with Molotov cocktails in the largely Latino community, with the most recent attack occurring early Monday morning.
“We are trying to determine motive. We are trying to determine whether it is gang-related, or if there is some type of hate crime issue involved,” LAPD area commanding officer Capt. Martin Baeza said.
Police asked KCAL9 not to bring cameras into the community meeting because they said some residents would not speak out if news cameras were present for fear of retaliation.
Residents of the housing development, located just north of the 10 Freeway, meanwhile speculated on whether the attack could have been racially motivated or gang-related.
One man who attended the meeting with his young daughter confirmed there is a climate of fear for some who live there.
“Some people are afraid to speak,” he said.
But others who attended the meeting insisted there is no racial tension in Ramona Gardens. One woman warned that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions about who carried out the attacks before police conclude their investigation.
“We don’t know who did it. LAPD don’t know who did it. So why do the news say that Hispanics and African-Americans are at war? We’re not. We’re all friends here. I have African-American friends. We’re not at war,” Romona Gardens resident Susie Machorro said.
Another man, who didn’t want his name used, echoed Machorro’s feeling the story is being sensationalized.
“Something like this happens, or something they think happens [and] right away people want to make a story out of it,” he said, adding, “They don’t want to talk about the good that has come out of this community.”
But Lynette McDaniel, who has lived in Ramona Gardens for only 90 days, says she’s had enough and is moving out as soon as possible.
“I don’t want to be around this. I don’t want to have my daughter around this at all… so I’m going to move on,” McDaniel said.
Police said no one was injured in the recent firebomb attacks.
Extra patrols have been assigned to Ramona Gardens as the investigation continues.