The South Los Angeles non-profit organization Community Coalition (CoCo) prides itself on training “activists and organizers in order to support power building with Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color,” according to its website. As 2022 may turn out to be another busy year, the following is a retrospect of top issues CoCo combated over the last 12 months.
South LA is continuously experiencing a high rate of gang violence. However, CoCo works in collaboration with gang intervention workers, who are non-violent, trusted, and trained peace creators with deep roots in the community. As LAist reported, the issue is complex and entails gang rivalries that have been going on for decades, as well as new gang battles that are erupting, including conflict within the same gang, according to the executive director of Reclaiming America’s Communities Through Empowerment (R.A.C.E.) Reynaldo Reaser. Reaser is well informed because he is an ex-gang member himself who is still connected to his community, which gives him a “license to operate,” —as he calls it—in his neighborhood.
“There’s a mixture: You’ve got old wars that have been going on for a long time, and then you have new wars between neighborhoods that have never beefed before,” Reaser said. “And the older generation is trying to quell the violence, but the younger generation wants to do what they want to do.”
The role of a professional community interventionist is to:
• Mitigate and defuse the violent situation
• Listen and respond to the needs of those involved
• Pinpoint and attempt to heal the trauma
• Direct them to resources
• Recruit the healed
Defunding the LAPD to invest in
Black students academic achievements
The Los Angeles school board has voted unanimously to remove police officers from schools and instead replace with staff who are trained in de-escalation stratgies and conflict resolution and approve a $36.5 million Black Student Achievement Plan. The de-escalation trained staff will:
• use de-escalation strategies and support
• eliminate racial disproportionately in school
discipline practices; and
• understand and address implicit bias
• use social-emotional learning strategies to
strengthen student engagement
• build a positive relationship and elevate
• implement positive school culture
Making Los Angeles whole again
Making LA Whole again was a campaign and policy platform that requested federal funding to be invested in South LA, as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The main focus was to support families and women in areas such as senior meal programs, childcare, broadband and utilities assistance, among others. The campaign was successful, and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti signed a $170 million plan to invest in the Black & Brown communities.
Combating Inequities of
South Los Angeles students
During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital divide was made very evident during the period of remote learning, as many families in East LA and South LA were struggling because they didn’t have the technology and internet access needed for their children to be successful in homeschooling when in-person schooling shut down.
The grassroots organizations Brotherhood Crusade and InnerCity Struggle stepped in and collaborated with CoCo to close this digital divide, by providing hotspots, laptops, and other services to over 300 families.
LAUSD distributed more
money using the student equity
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board members voted 6-1 to distribute $700 million to schools during 2021-2022 using the Student-Equity-Needs-Index, to reassure funding goes to Black and Brown schools.
CoCo’s vaccine outreach team
CoCo applauded it’s civic engagement and outreach teams for going door-to-door and talking to thousands of South LA residents via text or phone about getting the vaccine, as well as addressing their concerns, and redirecting them to the right resources.
CoCo’s Help For Residents After
LAPD’s Confiscated Fireworks Went Off
Seventeen residents in South LA were injured when fireworks, confiscated by the LAPD, went off. Many residents were displaced; some still haven’t received the relief they were promised. After the LAPD was called to the scene to remove a great number of illegal fireworks, as well as unsafe explosives, the material was supposed to be transferred into an iron chamber of a semi-truck, but officers miscalculated if the capacity of the Chamber to the amount of fireworks and ignited a tremendous explosion.
“Clearly protocols were followed and pursued, but something happened in that containment vehicle that should have not happened and we don’t know why,” the LAPD Chief Michael Moore said. “We intend to find out why.”
CoCo’s analysis of the incident is that it’s another example of what would have never happened in an affluent neighborhood.
South LA McDonald’s employees
strike for safer work conditions
Many employees were going on strike exposing big companies for their lack of benefits, better pay, and better health conditions during hardships such as the pandemic. CoCo believes when people stand up and fight for what’s right is necessary, change can occur.
South LA residents talk
about redistricting measures
Redistricting happens in every major city and it happens behind closed doors, every 10 years. In 2021 however, it was done publicly via Independent Redistricting Commissions, and therefore many South LA residents had the opportunity to speak up for how they wanted their communities drawn on new maps.
Residents of the South LA community demanded Exposition Park and USC to be moved back to Council District 8 – which is the only predominantly African-American district in LA, as the two assets were part of District 8 before 2010. However, as of now, they will remain in Council District 9 but progress was made regarding the new LAUSD and LA County maps. This is due to many residents who spoke up.
Over 100 African-American artists
will take over Crenshaw Boulevard
“Destination Crenshaw” will be the largest commissioning initiative ever undertaken for Black artists in the United States. The Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission approved the installation of seven permanent sculptures along the project’s 1.3 mile-long route, which brought the historic community one step closer to a historic undertaking.
South LA was chosen to be one of the state’s $6 billion broadband investment project sites
During the first year of the pandemic, restrictions to internet access made participating in the virtual learning environment and telehealth impossible for many in communities of color. Therefore, South LA was chosen to be one of the project sites for the state’s $6 billion broadband investment. It speaks to the need for greater contributions in technology to combat the digital divide.
South LA infrastructure improvements
South LA was promised a “facelift” regarding street improvements on Manchester from Vermont Avenue to Broadway, and on Broadway from Manchester Avenue to Imperial Highway. This multifaceted street project is called “Broadway South,” and it will encompass 2.8-miles. The improvements will include curb extensions, upgraded access ramps, pedestrian refuge islands, enhanced sidewalks, and bus stops, and protected bike lanes. Since there have been too many accidents in that area, involving pedestrian and bike riders, projects like this will reduce those significantly.