On Saturday, September 20 Angelenos turned out in South Los Angeles at 8 a.m. (including yours truly) to take part in the Vermont-Manchester Collaborative’s Peace March and Resources Fair.

With the Los Angeles Police Department’s South Bureau in the lead, the VMC has over 50 community-based organizations under its umbrella. It is a multi-jurisdictional partnership between the City and County of Los Angeles, elected officials, local clergy, schools, social services agencies, and residents to promote peace in the community.

The event was held at Charles Barrett Elementary School on 98th and Figueroa and had a great turnout from both the community and local law enforcement including the LAPD and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

The march route took participants north on Figueroa to 88th, east on 88th to Broadway, south on Broadway to Century, Century west to Figueroa and back to Barrett Elementary. There were hundreds of walkers. For me that’s a good thing. It tells me that there are still people who care about what’s happening in and on the streets of South Los Angeles.

The VMC was born out of a Los Angeles Times article (South Vermont: L.A. County’s ‘death alley,’ January 19, 2014) that profiled Vermont Avenue in South L.A. Referred to as ‘death alley’ or ‘murder alley,’ South Vermont has one of the highest rates of homicide in L.A. County. It is one of the most active areas for violent crimes and homicides in the city of Los Angeles.

According to the Times, at the time of the article’s publishing, sixty people had been killed along Vermont since 2007, most shot to death. That number has increased significantly with the recent rash of shootings.

The VMC is working to transform the community by overlaying proactive strategies with crime enforcement strategies in a broad cohesive way to address problems from the root instead of just the symptoms. A mouthful, I know but it basically is a fancy way of saying that the group is not just looking at how to deal with a member of a gang, but how that person got involved in gangs to begin with to see if there’s a way to put an end or at least a dent in the number of young people joining gangs.

Since May, the VMC has been looking at how to address safe passage, quality of life, and economic development issues with more community involvement and help from law enforcement.

The march was the second event for the group with the first being a community cleanup day in South Los Angeles that took place on September 13.

Captain Peter Whittingham of South Bureau’s Criminal Gang and Homicide Division and one of the leaders of the VMC said, “We don’t need a Ferguson for us to come together to raise our voice against injustice. This march is a manifestation of the trust from the community in their police department. Instead of marching against the police the community is marching with the police to bring about peace in their neighborhood.”

The VMC focuses on South Los Angeles north to Florence, South to 120th Street, East to the 110 freeway, and west to Van Ness Avenue.

For those interested in getting involved their next meeting will be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, September 23 at the Church of Scientology Community Center, 8039 South Vermont Avenue.  Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/vmcsouthla and on Twitter at @VMCSouthLA.

Shout outs go to LAPDs Deputy Chief Bob Greene and Captain Peter Whittingham for their efforts with this event and the VMC.

If you’re not part of the solution…

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