“La Cañada does not have a gang problem, but we are so close to adjacent gang activity that prevention is important,” Spence said. Spence added that being proactive was an important step in preventing gang influence in the La Cañada area. He also said that the summit was useful for community representatives who are not battling a gang problem to hear from those cities that are fighting for their community’s safety.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown was a guest speaker at the summit. He noted that there will always be racial tension and division, and that gangs feed off this type of mentality and hatred.
“We have domestic terrorists right here,” he said. “Gangs are like a disease, like a cancer in a community. We have to do more [to solve the problem].”
Brown referenced the war that is being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and the amount of money it is costing the country. Yet there is no money to fight the domestic terrorist, gangs, he said.
Brown looked toward the music industry as fueling the gang fury with lyrics that glorify the violent lifestyle. That sentiment prompted a question from a man in the audience who asked what Hollywood’s responsibility was in promoting gangs.
“I think Denzel Washington and [Robert] De Niro and anyone who has made money glamorizing gang members should contribute [to programs to help kids out of gangs],” said Constance Rice, co-director and co-founder of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles.
Rice, who is also a civil rights attorney, spoke about the lack of funding to help kids stay out of gangs. She told the audience of funds that had been donated to run a project in Los Angeles.
“For 15 weeks we had basketball games at night,” she said, stating these types of activities divert attention away from negative behavior.