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Civil rights leaders call for ceasefire

August 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles civil rights leaders called on rival gangs to honor a 24-hour ceasefire Monday after a teenager was shot and killed in the Hyde Park neighborhood over the weekend.A gunman opened fire on three people sitting on the front porch of a home on 7th Avenue near Hyde Park Boulevard around 12:15 a.m. Saturday. Police say the man was standing about 100 feet away from the victims.

Brandon Perry, 17, was shot in the face. He later died at a hospital. Two others, a man and a woman, who were injured in the shooting are expected to survive.

Police believe the shooting was gang-related.

On Monday, local civil rights activists publicly offered to mediate if the members of various gangs are willing to meet face-to-face.

"We live in the same communities. We're suffering the same tragedies and we as a people really want solutions," Lita Herron of the Youth Advocacy Coalition told ABC7 Monday.

"We're trying to encourage that street element to join us in this conversation. It is for their benefit. Can we guarantee they will come? No."

Even though LAPD officials report a sharp drop in gang-related killings over the last several years, community activists say residents need to do more to help police end the deadly cycle of violence.

"We've had a number of residents and community people say we're frightened, we're really concerned about it," said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a community activist.

"We're asking our community to come together to stand behind us, stand in support of one another," said Lita Herron, a community activist.

Many say while things have gotten better there is still a lot of work to be done.

"We have community meetings, block meetings. We have once a month the police captain will come by and give we seniors a talk to about what's going on in the neighborhood, what has and has not been done since the last time around, and we do see some improvement, but it could be a lot better," said Ora Martin, a South Los Angeles resident.

"There are definitely things that can be done but we have to step up and not just go inside of the house and talk about it but get out on the streets," said Waddell McMorris, a South L.A. resident.

Police are still searching for the gunman in the Hyde Park shooting.

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