Summer Night Lights Keeps Kids Busy

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa helped kick off the first evening of the Summer Night Lights program on Wednesday. The violence reduction initiative keeps City parks and recreation centers open after dark with organized activities for young people aged 17 - 2

Shooting hoops after dark is no big deal in many neighborhoods, but at the Lemon Grove Rec Center, even the police admit it was downright unsafe before the Summer Night Lights (SNL) program came along.

All across LA in areas afflicted by gangs, more than two dozen parks are now illuminated and open until midnight.

Advocates say SNL brings an up tick in fun and a dramatic drop in crime.

"Where we have these parks now, there's about a 57% decrease in crime around that park, but we've got to remember, crime is not limited to political jurisdictions. A lot of these kids are being safe in their own community, are not out in other people's neighborhoods causing trouble as well," according to Jose Huizar, LA City Councilman.

"We know for a fact that it's really working. As far as violent crime and property crime, it does go down during this period of Summer Night Lights," according to Captain Anita Ortega, of the LAPD.

SNL also debuted at Leo Costello Park where families that once fled at sundown can stay and play.

Launched three years ago in eight locations, SNL has blossomed despite the city's cash crunch.

Tax dollars and corporate donations turned the lights on this year in thirty-two parks.

"It's about saying that our kids have a right to be safe in their neighborhoods and have a good time," according to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

At the launch party, one recovering addict was confident that SNL will cut crime and save lives.

"I didn't go to programs like this when I was younger. It's good they have this opportunity to be part of something that's good for the city," according to Afton Gray, of Victory Outreach.

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