Hundreds of parents and grandparents, teenagers, teachers, and school principals packed into La Casa de La Raza community center on the city’s eastside on Wednesday night to talk about the death of Luis Angel Linares. The 15-year-old skateboarder, football player, and westside resident was stabbed to death exactly one week previously during a gang fight among young teenagers. The boy who accused of killing Linares was himself, as one speaker said, just “20 minutes past puberty,” a 14-year-old Santa Barbara Junior High School student.
Following speeches by four Santa Barbara City Councilmembers (the fifth, Roger Horton, was at a separate eastside neighborhood meeting), two county supervisors, and the five members of the panel, members of the public lined up to speak into the microphone for one minute. Several of the speakers reminded fellow parents of the importance of listening to their children, encouraging them, and expressing their love as often as possible despite busy schedules. Another recurrent theme was the community’s responsibility to embrace teenagers as part of the community at large. Some speakers urged compassion for the accused killer, protesting the decision to prosecute him as an adult, which could translate into a prison sentence of 30 years or longer.
A San Marcos High School student who wore a tee-shirt bearing Linares’s picture sorrowfully scolded the adults for failing to mobilize until it was too late for her friend. No specific action plans were initiated, though teachers called for volunteers to mentor students at the schools; the organizers said it was the first of many meetings, giving an opportunity for the community to mourn together. On a whiteboard set up outside the meeting room, somebody else wrote, “Have hope that all will be healed Angel, denise d.”
To see former Indy reporter Cathy Murillo’s cover story on gangs from a couple years ago (pictured), go here.