Street Memorials No Longer Safe: L.A. Sheriff


The flowers and candles began piling up Friday at a Los Angeles corner after a suspected gang member was fatally shot there. On Monday night, says the Los Angeles Times, mourners were gathered there when a gunman walked by and opened fire, killing two men — both suspected gang members — and wounding a third. “We have to realize there is a new reality here,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca. “We’ve got to understand such street memorials are no longer safe places to go. They are being targeted by gang members. If the victim is a gang member, it isn’t safe to be around that memorial.”

Despite the concerns, there does not appear to be support for restricting the shrines in Los Angeles County. The Oakland Police Department placed limitations on street memorials after a spate of gang-revenge shootings in 2004 ended with a slaying at a street memorial. Oakland policy allows for makeshift shrines to stand for 48 hours before police or city maintenance workers remove them. Berkeley officials went a step further in October after a series of shootings left two people dead and one person wounded. A woman taking out her trash was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet fired by someone at a nearby memorial. “If it creates a public safety issue, the city manager has the authority to remove them immediately,” said Deputy City Attorney Lisa Caronna.

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