COMPTON — An increase in traffic deaths and reckless driving and concerns about new marijuana laws were topics of discussion at a town hall meeting conducted by a locally based civil rights organization March 17.
Entitled “Law and Order in the City of Compton,” the meeting was called by the National Association for Equal Justice in America (NAEJA), at Holy Chapel Baptist Church. Personnel from the Compton Sheriff’s Station attended the meeting, including traffic investigator Jaeton Wilson, Deputy Tyquan Thomas and Sgt. Arthur Thomas.
Royce Esters, founder and CEO of NAEJA, said he was alarmed about the surge in traffic deaths in the city. Six people have died in traffic accidents in less than three months in 2018 after only six people were killed all year in traffic accidents in 2017.
“Some residents are not properly crossing in the crosswalks which could lead to them getting hit and killed by a distracted driver,” Sgt. Thomas said. “There’s also a citywide problem with low street lighting at night. Pedestrians who wear dark clothing while crossing streets can also lead to fatalities because it’s harder for drivers to see them.
“The low lighting in Compton really needs to be fixed,” he added.
Thomas also said there could be a problem with drivers driving under the influence and other drivers not paying attention to traffic signals, as well as some drivers ignoring the speed limit.
“We have one traffic unit operating in the day time and two traffic units at night to patrol Compton,” he said. “We do what we can with the limited resources we have.”
The recent anti-marijuana law that was passed in Compton in January has led to a citywide crackdown on illegal weed shops. Nearly 83,000 signatures were gathered to put Measure I on the ballot and the residents in Compton overwhelmingly rejected proposals to allow recreational and medicinal sales in the city.
“We did our part. … There are only two illegal marijuana shops left in the city,” Thomas said.
But illegally smoking marijuana persists said one person in attendance, noting that young people are smoking marijuana in the park.
“You can’t smoke marijuana in public,” said Deputy Thomas, “but you can smoke it in your house.”
With the recent controversy swirling around the issue of whether teachers should have guns in the classroom, Capt. Thomas McFadden of the Compton School Police was adamant that teachers should not be handling guns, citing the recent incident in Monterey County, where a teacher accidentally discharged a gun, injuring three students.
“I don’t think teachers should bear arms because they are not trained properly,” he said.
One person in the audience was concerned about the lack of after-school programs, adding that she has noted youth aimlessly roaming the streets of Compton with nothing to do, which could lead to crime.
“We have an after-school program for youth called the Youth Athletic League,” Deputy Thomas said. “It’s open to youths from the ages of 7 to 17 and it offers many activities to keep youth off the streets.’’
Esters expressed his concern about the controversial AR-15 assault gun that is still being used for civilian use, adding that the guns are not manufactured for hunting.
“I have never heard of anyone ever hunting with a machine gun. These AR-15 guns are made for one purpose only — taking the life of another human being.”
Pausing, he added, “The kids in Florida have got it right. These guns have no place in our society, nor do they want their teachers to become part-time sharp shooters. Students in Florida are standing for justice, not injustice. We support them.”