Parks Stay Open Late to Curb Gangs

The lights will stay on until midnight at 16 parks across the city Wednesday night as part of a newly expanded anti-gang program credited with helping Los Angeles record its safest summer since 1967 last year. The Rev. Jeff Carr, who heads the city's anti-gang efforts, plans to make rounds at the Harvard Recreation Center, Mount Carmel Recreation Center, Ross Synder Recreation Center and Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.

"Summer Night Lights" provides at-risk youths with activities aimed at keeping them out of trouble on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, when park lights stay on until midnight.

Police recorded a 17 percent drop in violent, gang-related crime in neighborhoods near parks that participated in the program last summer, according to the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office.

Homicides were down 86 percent, and aggravated assaults down 23 percent, according to decline in aggravated assaults, according to the Mayor's Office.

That success prompted officials to double the number of participating parks this year.

"This is our chance to build on last summer's success and take back our parks and communities," Villaraigosa said as he talked up the effort at the Imperial Courts Recreation Center last week.

USC football coach Pete Carroll's nonprofit group, A Better LA, helped develop some of the activities, which include athletics, arts and family programs.

At-risk youths also are given jobs overseeing the park activities.

The other parks participating in Summer Night Lights are:

  • Denker Recreation Center
  • Glassell Park
  • Imperial Courts Recreation Center
  • Jim Gilliam Park
  • Jordan Downs Recreation Center
  • Lemon Grove Recreation Center
  • Florence-Graham
  • Nickerson Gardens Recreation Center
  • Ramon Garcia Recreation Center
  • Hubert Humphrey Memorial Park
  • Ramona Gardens Recreation Center
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