SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Lawanda Hawkins’ only son Reggie was killed in 1995.
For the past 25 years, she had turned her pain into purpose — co-founding the group Justice for Murdered Children — and on Monday she spoke out about the current surge in violent crime in the city of Los Angeles.
“These are lives, and no one is saying nothing,” she said. “There’s no protest, there’s no demand that this stops? We need more assistance.”
Over the weekend, the Los Angeles Police Department reported its 300th homicide of the year — a number that hasn’t been seen in more than a decade.
“We’re seeing street gangs and street violence,” Chief Michel Moore said. “Many times over little petty matters and just the sense of chaos that is in some of these communities.”
Moore said most of the violence was happening in Central and South L.A. and believed the spike in violence could be attributed to the loss of jobs, despair and the fact that many students are not in school.
“We’re having four shootings per day, and that number, in the early part of this year, was two,” Moore said.
And while Moore addressed the ongoing cuts and downsizing of the department’s specialized divisions — down more than 300 officers in the last 18 months — he said he did not believe it was causing the increase in crime. Though, he acknowledged, the losses could not come at a worse time.
“Men and women working in black and whites, people working on these investigations involving violent crimes, those are first things first,” he said.
Hawkins said, while her community cannot afford to lose help from the LAPD, she knows that the officers need the community’s help too.
“We’re gonna have to come up with a way to help them to be able to deal with this, because it’s our kids going out here committing this crime called murder,” she said. “And we have to be willing to stand up, you guys. You’ve got to be willing to stand up, you’ve got to say so and so committed this crime.”
Moore said policing was not the only answer to the spike in homicides, but he promised that the department was going to use every resource they have to be out on the streets, solve these violent crimes and pursue justice for victims and their families.