The Los Angeles Times profiles Ramona Gardens, a Los Angeles housing project that has seen countless confrontations between the police and its home-grown street gang, Big Hazard. The cycles of seething standoffs and bursts of violence stretch back generations and have defeated every effort to bring lasting security to the neighborhood. Caught in the middle are about 2,000 other folks determined to lead normal lives in the sprawl of barracks-like, World War II-era masonry buildings.
Some say they feel under siege more from the police than the gang, because of what they contend are heavy-handed tactics, a characterization that the Los Angeles Police Department disputes. Housing experts say that Ramona Gardens, squeezed by railroad tracks and the San Bernardino Freeway, has become a field laboratory for housing policies gone wrong and that any solution would require razing the buildings and starting from scratch. The city’s oldest project, Ramona Gardens opened in 1941. “It has outlived its useful life,” said the executive director of the Housing Authority.