News Article
Our Remembrance and Prayer for Safe Passage Event Brings Awareness to Those Lost in South L.A.

The Remembrance of Those Lost and Prayer for Safe Passage Event on August 28th was a great success!! Thank you to everyone who attended and joined our call for safer streets in South L.A. 

Why increase the awareness of traffic violence in South L.A.? The facts speak for themselves. In 2020, Californians drove 14.6% less. As a result, in most parts of CA, there was a marked decrease in traffic collisions. Los Angeles had a 26% decrease in the number of collisions. In South L.A., there were also fewer collisions, but the number of people seriously injured and killed shot up by 23%. This trend has continued into 2021, with a 46% increase in traffic injuries and fatalities compared to 2019. In the last 12 months, the number of people injured and killed in South L.A. only is over 1,600 people, with 124 fatalities. 

In Los Angeles, the number one killer of children age 4-14 is traffic collisions. L.A. is also considered the hit-and-run capital of the US, with 48% of all traffic collisions being hit-and-runs. In South L.A., this is worse, with 52% of all collisions being hit-and-runs. 

The solution to this is multi-faceted, and SAFE has increased our involvement with the community of South L.A. to push forward change in the violence on our streets, which includes the newly formed chapter of our organization and our "Faith for Safer Streets" movement. 

What is Faith for Safer Streets?

Earlier this year, SAFE was approached by Pastor Patricia Strong-Fargas, the Senior Pastor for Mt. Salem New Wave Christian Fellowship Church in South L.A., requesting help to address this problem of increasing traffic violence in South L.A. In a part of the city where religion plays a larger role than in other parts of Los Angeles, she realized the power that churches hold to help convey the message of safer streets. 

Pastor Fargas' idea was to unite the faith community to start addressing the traffic violence in South L.A. and needed SAFE's help to carry it forward. SAFE was immediately on board and pursued funding through the Southern California Association of Governments to help develop a network of faith-based opinion leaders in South L.A. to address this problem. 

The word about Faith for Safer Streets spread like wildfire throughout the South L.A. community. Two virtual  "Welcome Events" were attended by leaders of the South L.A. faith community and representatives from the L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell's office, LAPD's Deputy Chief Regina Scott, the retired Mayor of Culver City, and a host of other VIPs. 

Remembrance of Those Lost and Prayer for Safe Passage Event on August 28th

One of the first actions of the newly formed Faith for Safer Streets group was an event to raise the alarm about the spike in traffic violence since 2020 in South L.A.

The Remembrance of Those Lost and Prayer for Safe Passage Event was held at Figueroa Street Elementary School. This school is located on one of the most dangerous roads in Los Angeles (Figueroa Street), with 103 pedestrians and cyclists injured or killed within a few blocks of the school in the last 5 years. 

Speakers included elected politicians, civic leaders, and senior ministers representing a combined total of over 800 houses of worship in and around South L.A. They included:
  • Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Los Angeles City Council District 6
  • Capt. Aaron Ponce, South Traffic Division, Los Angeles Police Department
  • Ms. Emma Watson, for Ms. Tanya Ortiz Franklin, Board Member of the Los Angeles Board of Education
  • Ms. Connie Llanos, Chief of Staff, Los Angeles Department of Transportation
  • Mr. Daniel Carrillo, Principal for Figueroa Street Elementary School
  • Pastor Patricia Strong-Fargas, Mt. Salem New-Wave Christian Fellowship Church
  • Dr. James Jones, President of South Bureau Ministerial Alliance
  • Pastor Byron Smith, Vice-President of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Southern California
  • Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez, President of Churches in Action
  • Dr. E. Wayne Gaddis, President of Califonia Missionary Baptist State Convention
  • Imam Asim Buyuksoy, Director of Religious Affairs of the Islamic Center of Southern California
  • Pastor Robert Vasquez, World Impact
A pop-up memorial was created at Figueroa St. Elementary School with 800 yellow flags, candles, and other decorations. 124 white roses were placed by those attending, one for each person hit and killed last year. 

What was the result?

Media turned out to help spread the word about the need for safer streets in South L.A. ABC 7 News, NBC 4 News, KTLA 5 News, and several internet news sites picked up the story. 

As a result, more ministers have pledged to join Faith for Safer Streets and support efforts to reduce traffic violence in their neighborhoods. We also have requests from LADOT, LAPD, LAUSD, and Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson's office to work together in education and outreach efforts to make safer streets in Los Angeles.

Check out the ABC 7 News piece here.

What are the next steps?

There is an urgent call to action to support AB 43, which would give cities the ability to lower speeds on some dangerous streets, not just blindly raise speeds as required by current state law.

It sounds crazy, but current CA state law is based on the "85th Percentile" method of determining speed limits. This means the speed limits are set by how fast most drivers drive on the streets, NOT based on what's safe for that community. It's hard to believe and comprehend, but this video is a great explanation of how the 85th Percentile law works.

If you or anyone you know would like to get involved with Faith for Safer Streets or support AB 43 and/or Senate Resolution 60 -- Speed Safety Awareness Month, please contact us at .


Author: Dayna