Los Angeles

LAPD Chief Challenges Validity of Social Media Postings Proclaiming Plague of Gang Homicides

LAPD Chief Beck attributed a series of shootings last weeked not to social media postings, but to a decades-old rivalry between two gangs that has reignited.

Recognizing public concerns and hoping to ease them, Los Angeles Police Department's chief on Wednesday challenged the validity of social media postings warning of a plague of homicides over a 100-day period.

Chief Charlie Beck called the public impact "significant."

"That's one of the reasons I'm being so direct in saying we don't believe this is a cause for additional gang violence now," said Beck.

As it was, the postings with the hashtag "#100daysand100nights" began appearing shortly before a surge in gang shootings last weekend in South Los Angeles. On Saturday alone, there were four shootings over a six hour period from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the area of LAPD's 77th Street Division. One person died and five more were wounded.

Beck said those shootings stemmed from a long-running feud between two southside gangs that reignited.

"In all fairness, you can't attribute a dispute that's been going on as long as I've been a police officer to a series of postings," said Beck.

Tensions flared after the shooting death three weeks ago of a prominent veteran member of one of the gangs. There were clashes at his funeral, "and that led to a continuation of the shootings," Beck said.

The chief declined to name the gangs, but other sources identified them as Hoovers and Main Street. On the night of  July 9, Ladell "Del Dog" Rowles--whose later ventures included launching a music label and a foundation to benefit community children--was shot to death during a dispute at Broadway Street and Century Boulevard.

The outbreak of violence Saturday prompted LAPD to reassign resources to 77th Division, Beck said, and since then "We have not had what we would consider unusual levels of gang violence."

Gang intervention workers also took an active role in meeting with gang members to suppress the violence.

An early Wednesday shooting that wounded a man on 52nd Street near Compton Avenue is believed not to have involved the feuding gangs who acted out Saturday, police said.

The origin of the "100daysand100nights" hashtag postings remains undetermined.

"Gang banging in social media" has become commonplace in recent years, said Aqeela Sherrills, a former gang member turned peacemaker and entrepreneur. But like Chief Beck, he thinks it unlikely that anyone involved in Saturday's violence would make self-incriminating postings.

"A lot of the rumors of the '100 days and 100 nights' has been squelched," Sherrills said.

Gangs are rarely as organized and monolithic as sometimes perceived, Sherrills said, and conflicts often result from disputes between cliques within gangs.

The weekend violence Monday a community rally for peace on Monday, and some concerned parents spoke of keeping their children inside for their safety.

"People are still a little nervous about the '100 days and 100 nights,'" Sherrills said. "Because people are still being shot."

At his briefing, Chief Beck also discussed the most recent crime statistics, which have risen this past year for the first time in more than a decade.

Year to date citywide, so called "part one" serious crime is up 11.9 percent, Beck said, and gang crime is up 15 percent. He pointed out headway has been made in reducing the increase from the levels of three months ago, when the increase in part one crimes exceeded 15 percent, and gang crime was up 20 percent.

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