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March 25th, 2010
11:37 PM ET

Gangs of Hollenbeck, five years later

Program Note: Don't miss an AC360° special investigation, "Gangs of Hollenbeck," this Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Five years ago we spent months talking to police and gang members while reporting in the Hollenbeck division of Los Angeles. It’s a place where thousands of young men and women were – and still are – members of gangs.

There is a long history of gangs in Hollenbeck, some current gang members have grandfathers who were once gangsters themselves. Since then, gang killings have dropped in Los Angeles, and we wanted to return to Hollenbeck to see what’s happening there now.

We tracked down some of the gang members we talked to five years ago, and re-connected with cops and social workers who are trying to reduce the strength of gangs in the neighborhood.

But even though killings are down, we found that the code of silence is still strong in Hollenbeck, and it’s letting people get away with murder.

Police can only do so much to solve crimes, they need citizens to come forward and report what they’ve seen and what they’ve heard. Too often that doesn’t happen in Hollenbeck.

In any number of gang-ravaged neighborhoods right here in America, there is gunfire, intimidation, murder and fear.

In “Gangs of Hollenbeck,” we’ll take you inside a neighborhood where stray bullets claim innocent lives, where witnesses are afraid to talk to police and where standing on the wrong sidewalk can get you killed.

Five years ago, we reported on one of the most notorious gang infested neighborhoods in Los Angeles, a city known in the law enforcement community as the nation’s gang capital. Five years later, we returned to see how life has changed.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Jennifer - Michigan

    The crazy life is all they know. The people are born into this environment and know no different – they do as their parents did. It's such a sad situation to be forced into this violent way of life. They are not exposed to a good way of living throughout their lives. Don't know what could be done to help....Education might be a start? Almost seems impossible.

    March 26, 2010 at 7:11 am |
  2. Isabel, Brazil

    The problem of gangs begins with the exclusion, the lack of economic opportunity and the school dropout. It must provide opportunities and security for these people can have a different future.

    March 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  3. Jo Ann, North Royalton, Ohio

    Anderson,

    I have always considered "Homicide in Hollenbeck" to be one of the best things that you have ever done so I was glad to hear that after five years you decided to revisit Hollenbeck and some of the people from the original reports, in particular Father Boyle. I was glad to see that he was still around.

    I was hoping you would put your reports together for a special. I look forward to watching it.

    Jo Ann

    March 25, 2010 at 7:01 pm |