Tolerance and "diversity"


Los Angeles is notorious for gang violence, but even by LA standards 2002 was gruesome. With 658 murders in just that one year, it became America's murder capital. Of those murders, almost half were directly related to gang turf wars involving drugs and guns. And of those gangs, most are based in south-central or south-east LA.

With a spiralling murder rate and poor police-community relations following the Rodney King riots and the Rampart corruption scandal, the city appointed a new chief to clean up its act. Amid much fanfare and hype William Bratton - the man credited with cleaning up New York's once-soaring crime rate under the political stewardship of former mayor Rudy Giuliani - was brought in to get LA under control. Chief Bratton immediately appointed a second deputy charged with concentrating some officers in gang areas and targeting gangs. He also prioritised improving relations with minority communities.

And 2003 saw the overall murder rate fall in LA by 23%, but so far this year the murder rate is back on the increase across the city. The LAPD's figures show a 5% year-on-year rise in homicides from Jan to April 2004. And while the number of homicides fell in some neighbourhoods last year, it only ever continued to rise in the hardcore gang areas....

Aside from a rising homicide rate, Ms Rice warns that the gangs are crossing a line that has not been crossed before: They are now targeting police officers themselves. She says: "It's one thing for gangsters to exchange fire with the police in situations, but we are now starting to see sniping. We are now seeing the ambushing of cops by gangsters and we should be panicking. "We are on the way to a point of no return and we will end up in a Falluja situation. It is already a Falluja situation in some areas. LA is on the road to Falluja."

Ms Rice also claims potential witnesses are even being murdered by criminals inside jails because the prisons are "so overcrowded and thinly staffed". She says this has happened five times already this year alone. She also says the situation with gangs was so out of control that even older gang leaders were frightened of today's members because they do not operate within a moral framework at all. "Who's bringing them up?" one former Crips gang leader asked Ms Rice after telling her even he feared the younger gangsters....

She claims that while Chief Bratton has made "big changes at leadership level that doesn't mean the desk sergeant gets it." Ms Rice is not optimistic for the future.........

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"Record crowds gathered to hear cries of 'tally-ho' and the barking of hounds for what could be Britain's last traditional post-Christmas hunt before a ban comes into force next year. The pro-hunting Countryside Alliance said at least 300,000 people joined huntsmen and women for the meets over the Christmas break -- including Boxing Day, one of the biggest days on the hunt calendar, with more than 300 separate hunts throughout England and Wales. ... The ban on all forms of hunting with dogs will come into force in February. But supporters of hunting have vowed to ignore it, saying jobs will be put at risk. Simon Hart, of the Countryside Alliance, said unprecedented crowds at the Boxing Day meets reflected solidarity and resolve, not only from the hunting community, but also from the many thousands who supported freedom and tolerance."

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