Glassell Park Community Garden: How a former gang den site became a community garden that brings the community together!
Community Garden Heals Once Terrorized Drew Street
Former gang den site becomes a community garden.
By EGP News Report - http://egpnews.com/
A vacant lot where gang members, drug deals and crime once thrived under the roof of a gang den, was inaugurated as a community garden on Saturday, June 25, 2011.
The garden’s parcels have already been distributed through a lottery, now the work of harvesting and sustaining a culture of hope on Drew Street begins.
Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, who represents the area, said the site was once home to the violence, drugs and fear that overwhelmed the neighborhood.
“For me it wasn’t enough to tear down the gang headquarters that stood here. I wanted to build something positive in its place. This garden will be a place where the community will gather and grow stronger,” he said, adding it will anchor the neighborhood with roots of “peace, hope and community.”
Northeast LAPD Capt. William Murphy recalled that the portion of the neighborhood where Drew Street and Estara Avenue meet was once a center of crime activity.
“Forty-eight to 60 [crimes] a year—just on this street, 100 yards,” said Murphy. “this year to date, there have only been four crimes. That’s an 80 percent reduction in crime, with no violent crimes, they’ve all been property crimes.”
The Glassell Park Community Garden is located at 3304 Drew Street, where an Avenues gang “Satellite House” stood just two years ago. The house was demolished after city officials condemned it as a nuisance property, and Wells Fargo, which held the title of the land, donated the property to the city.
A year before the demotion, a crack down on the Drew Street clique resulted in the raid of more than a dozen homes, which resulted in the confiscation of a cache of drugs and automatic weapons. The principal tenant of the home, Maria Leon, and some of her 13 children were arrested in the police operation. Leon was sentenced to 8 years and three months in federal prison after pleading guilty to racketeering and conspiracy; half of her older children are in prison or dead from gang-related violence, according to the authorities.
But that is now in the densely populated area’s past. The Glassell Park Neighborhood Council and Drew Street Neighborhood Watch each received a parcel to garden, said Bradley, who said community organizations were originally excluded from the efforts to create the site, but added he is glad to see the project moving forward.
“We are pleased we have the opportunity to be a part, and to maintain a visible part of the crime prevention and intervention in the area,” said Bradley. “No one can police the community better than the community,” he said.
During the lottery distribution of the plots, residents who live within four blocks of the site, seniors and apartment dwellers without a yard were given extra weight, said Yusef Robb, a spokesperson for Garcetti.
Members of the Los Angeles Community Gardens were on hand to help Garcetti cut the ribbon and publicly committed to future programming at the site.
The councilmember’s office and Wells Fargo donated money for the LA Conservation Corps to transform the vacant lot into a garden, and “start up” plants and seeds have been donated, Robb said. “The Micheltorena Community Garden in our District sent some fruit trees; other fruit trees were found by our staff for the garden,” he said. “From there, folks tend the garden with the help of the LA Community Garden Council, which we engaged to help out.
Eastern Group Publications was founded in 1979 by the husband and wife team Jonathan and Dolores Sanchez, but its roots were planted in the community long before that. In 1945, Joseph Kovner founded the Eastside Sun which became the main source of news for east L.A’s communities. The Sanchez’s bought the chain when it was on the brink of bankruptcy.
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