Within the month, five lives had been lost to traffic violence, and the community began to mobilize their grief and anger into action. There have been memorial rides, visits to City Hall, organizing meetings, and more, including the June 28th rally outside of the Constituent Service Center on Vermont and Manchester. The latter was just the latest in a series of events demonstrating a palpable frustration with the slow wheels of justice and infrastructure change. Los Angeles traffic deaths continue to rise, and the County is known as the hit-and-run capital of the country.
Since May 31, the LA County Bicycle Coalition has been working with Woon Justice for South LA, a group that formed in response to the recent death of their 22-year old friend, and an ongoing history of underinvestment in their area. Led by Edin Barrientos, who also formed Chief Lunes (Woon’s bike family), Woon Justice for South LA meets with other community partners on Thursday nights to discuss advocacy and plan actions around getting justice for the death of their friend. Last Friday, the group met with Kristen Gordon, the Economic Development Deputy in LA City Councilmember’s Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s office, to discuss partnering with the Council office on improving safety.
LACBC‘s Jesi Harris and Lyndsey Nolan speaking with LA City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson
“It’s not safe for anybody in the streets, man,” said Barrientos, a young man who’s lived in South LA his entire life. With a stoic countenance that demands your attention, Barrientos leads a group of young, mostly black and brown cyclists through LA for weekly Monday night rides. Chief Lunes is made up of many types of folks who ride, and they’re united by their love of biking, and their dependence upon their two wheels as their main way to get around their city.
According to the Council office, there has been a 46% increase in people injured or killed on the streets of South Los Angeles in 2018. We must remember that statistics are not numbers – they are representative of sons, daughters, fathers, neighbors, and friends. Last Monday would have been Woon’s 23rd birthday. We’re working to make streets safer for his young child, and for everyone who uses our public roadways: cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike. For more of a background on these issues, read Streetblog LA’s Sahra Sulaiman’s write up on recent events.