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P&F 2006 Campaign News Coverage
SB's gang killings get attention of top candidates
Democrats Delgadillo and Brown in June 6 primary race for state attorney general
Guy McCarthy, Staff Writer
San Bernardino County Sun
Gang-related killings of children in San Bernardino have grabbed the attention of two leading candidates to become California's attorney general -- the state's top cop.
Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown both are touting anti-gang experience in their quest to win over Democrats in a June 6 primary less than two weeks away.
"The gang problem is an epidemic throughout the state, and what's happening in San Bernardino should concern all of us," Delgadillo said Thursday in Los Angeles. "We need to take what we've learned here in L.A. and put it to work in places like San Bernardino."
Several San Bernardino children have been gunned down by gangs in the past six months, including 14-year-old Jarred Mitchell. Jarred was fatally wounded and three others were injured Monday in a drive-by shooting on West Home Avenue.
Earlier Thursday in Sacramento, Delgadillo unveiled a five-point plan for combating gangs across California. Delgadillo said he wants to visit San Bernardino before the primary. Staff members were trying to schedule his visit late Thursday.
Brown's Oakland-based political consultant, Ace Smith, dismissed Delgadillo's plan as "political plagiarism."
"There's nothing new in Rocky's plan," Smith said Thursday. "Everything in it was done 10 years ago by his predecessor, (former Los Angeles mayor and city attorney) Jim Hahn."
Smith said the mayor does not intend to campaign in San Bernardino until after the primary. Brown himself could not be reached for comment.
Delgadillo's five-point plan includes naming a "gang czar" -- an experienced gang prosecutor to coordinate anti-gang efforts statewide.
Delgadillo rejected Smith's comments, and said resurgent crime in Oakland is all voters need to know about Brown's track record dealing with gangs.
"The only thing in my plan that remains from Hahn's days is gang injunctions," Delgadillo said. "I go to the toughest neighborhoods in south Los Angeles and east L.A. The crime wave in Oakland is now up to 54 homicides this year, the highest per capita in the state."
Homicides in San Bernardino increased from 50 in 2004 to 58 in 2005. Among the victims last year were five children, including 11-year-old Mynisha Crenshaw and 16-year-old Melanie Miers. Oakland had 94 homicides in 2005, six more than the year before. In Los Angeles, homicides dropped from 518 in 2004 to 487 in 2005.
Both candidates have been endorsed by law enforcement groups. Brown's endorsers include the California Police Chiefs Association. Delgadillo's include the Professional Peace Officers Association.
In a nonpartisan statewide poll in April, Delgadillo trailed Brown by more than 25 percent in voter recognition and preference. Conducted by Field Research of San Francisco, the poll tapped opinions of 1,431 Californians with sampling errors up to 6.5 percent.
Democratic voters must decide between Brown, a former California governor and three-time presidential candidate, and Delgadillo, who has won two elections in the state's most populous city.
Current State Attorney General Bill Lockyer is termed out and his office is up for grabs in November. Four other candidates from different parties, including Republican state Senator Charles Poochigian of Fresno, are unopposed in their primaries and will face Brown or Delgadillo in November's general election.
If Brown wins the primary, some political analysts say the lesser-known Poochigian could have a decent chance against Brown and his much higher profile. Poochigian's spokesman, Kevin Spillane, said the state senator will visit the Inland Empire in June, after the primary.
Berkeley attorney Jack Harrison, a Peace and Freedom candidate for state attorney general, said he has visited San Bernardino before and is familiar with gang violence in the region.
"You have a lot of growth and a lot of people getting hurt down there," Harrison said. "You have some racism, discrimination against immigrants, and a lot of children at risk."
Harrison said he is wary of gang injunctions when they are wielded indiscriminately.
"It's like a grand jury making it easy to get convictions, just moving a group from one place to another," Harrison said. "The idea of people losing their rights because they're in the wrong place at the wrong time these are like blanket measures against people's behavior. There are kids who are not in gangs who could be hurt by these measures."
The California Peace and Freedom Party is a socialist and feminist group based in Alameda County.
Libertarian candidate Kenneth A. Weissman and Green candidate Michael S. Wyman did not return calls seeking comment.
Contact writer Guy McCarthy at (909) 386-3872 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This page was last updated on 5 June 2006.