Written by Angus
Recently featured on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel was a piece about The Watts Bears who are a youth football team formed three years ago and coached by LAPD officers Adam Moore, Cesar Rivera, Zarren Thompson, Sergio Sanchez and Grant Goosby in the Watts neighborhood of South Los Angeles where kids are taught by their parents not to trust the police. The police went door to door trying to recruit kids and were typically told to “take a hike”. Despite the program being completely free the coaches were not trusted simply because they were police. The friction between Police and the community began with the racially fueled riots in Watts in the 1960s, which included 34 deaths and thousands of injuries and arrests and 40 million dollars in property damage. Since then, many inner cities, including Watts, haven’t trusted the police. The Bears are a successful attempt at bringing law enforcement and community closer through young athletes. The kids are brought together from Nickerson Gardens, Imperial Courts, and Jordan Downs public housing developments. The parents have been taught to hate each other from when they were kids but are willing to put behind their past for the sake of the kids. When they come to the games and sit in the stands, they are all wearing orange, white and blue. They have become one team. Uniting them was the goal of LAPD’s community safety plan. In the past, police only went to Watts when there was a death or crime. Now they have good relationships with the parents and are welcomed by the community. Distrust and violence is a common problem for the inner city if you can get people united for a common cause you can end violence and began an era of peace and communal strength. What the LAPD and community of Watts have accomplished should serve as an example to inner cities throughout America.