In response to the gang-related murder of Luis Angel Linares one week ago today, the community center Casa De La Raza is holding a forum to discuss gang violence and the shared responsibility to prevent it. The forum begins at 6 p.m. on March 21 at 601 E. Montecito Street.

“The theme is strengthening our community and our families in the wake of violence,” said Nick Centino, the organization’s youth coordinator. Centino said the event will include a panel of experts on the subject, including Cecilia Rodriguez of CALM (Child Abuse Listening and Mediation) and Mario T. Garcia of the UCSB Chicano studies department, school board member Annette Cordero, and Refugio “Cuco” Rodriguez of Alcohol Drug and Mental Health Services.

Garcia released a press statement on behalf his department earlier this week which condemned the efforts on the part of the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office to prosecute as an adult the 14-year-old Santa Barbara Junior High School student alleged to have dealt the fatal blow in the March 15 gang scuffle that left Linares dead in the parking lot behind Saks Fifth Avenue on State Street.

“We do not believe that this is appropriate due to the age factor involved. As psychologists and scientists note, the frontal lobes of the brains of young people are not fully developed at this age. This is the site where judgments are made. Adolescents this age do not yet have their full mental and reasoning capacities developed to make responsible judgments,” Garcia said in the written statement.


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