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Los Angeles
Barbarians Inside Gate As Kids Lose A Cool Pool
by Doug McIntyre [radio host/scriptwriter] 6/30/08

I was a very pale child and have grown into a nearly translucent adult. So, I'm no expert on swimming pools, public or private.

But I do have some vague memories of splashing around in a public pool screaming "Marco!" to some other kid's distant "Polo!" And I remember the taste of heavily chlorinated water bubbling out my nostrils as my brother Jeff held my head under - in fun, of course - for what seemed to me a nearly homicidal length of time. Everyone seemed to get a chuckle, so who am I to say blue lips and no circulation isn't funny?

Yes, summer is here, and that means children from all over Los Angeles will be flocking to the 47 pools run by the Department of Recreation and Parks. Make that 46 pools. The 109th Street oasis has been closed due to thuggery.


Doug McIntyre [imdb page] is a former television scriptwriter and producer and is host of McIntyre in the Morning on Los Angeles' Talk Radio 790 KABC, heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. [go to McIntyre Index]

This isn't "older brother whoop-asses kid brother" thuggery; I'm talking L.A.'s "civilization is belly-flopping" barbarism. It's 140 degrees in the shade, but the 109th Street pool is closed because the city of Los Angeles can no longer guarantee the safety of swimmers or staff.

Here's the scene: a hot Sunday afternoon, 200 neighborhood kids and adults splashing in the bracing water. Unfortunately, far too many ignored the health code requirements to shower before entering the pool, and many didn't even bother to change from their street clothes.

How many chose to use the pool as a urinal remains undetermined. Pool Manager Christopher Molina noticed the water becoming murky and ordered the swimmers out of the pool so it could be cleaned. He appealed to some people in their 20s and 30s for help.

That's where Mr. Molina went wrong. He assumed the adults were there to supervise the children - that as adults, they would be part of the solution.

Wrong. They were the problem. The gang problem.

Sandwiched between Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens, the 109th Street pool is contested turf.

Christopher Molina's story needs to be told: a city employee who cares about his job, cares about the kids who come to his pool. He was looking out for the health of the children when he turned to the adults. His reward? They punched him in the face and threw him into the drink.

The lifeguards needed lifeguards. The pool's armed guards - that's not a typo; the pool has armed guards - were outnumbered 15-1. Rather than shoot into a crowd of children, the guards waved the white flag of surrender.

The inevitable 911 call produced a delayed response from the Los Angeles Police Department, occupied at another pool, where a man had been spotted brandishing a gun.

Remember when the scariest thing at the pool was Uncle Carl in a thong?

Along with his friends, Antwon Miller, a 15-year-old from the 'hood, is a regular at the 109th Street pool. When Molina shut down the pool, Miller considered using the county pool six blocks away but realized, "We might get popped." As in shot. As in dead.

It's shark season in Southern California. These are human sharks, the ultimate killing machines. Gangs kill all they touch - if not physically, then spiritually. A roasting Los Angeles summer promises to be hotter yet.

Civilization continues to retreat, and City Councilwoman Janice Hahn hand-wrings again. Maybe she could get Reggie the alligator back from the L.A. Zoo. He'd feel at home in the 109th Street pool. Gator vs. Sharks. We're talking pay-per-view.

When swimming pools need armed guards and even they're not enough to keep kids safe, it's Los Angeles that's circling the drain. CRO

first appeared at L.A. Daily News

copyright 2008 Doug McIntyre





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