|Informational flier on car|
Early in the evening my family started noticing traffic on our residential street. Car were speeding, driving erratically, driving in the middle of the road, make fast U turns in driveways. When you see this kind of dangerous driving on our street, it can only mean there was a Citizens of the World Charter Mar Vista event going on. I pulled my daughters inside the house and told them they would not be able to play outside that evening like we usually do because of the traffic danger.
I went to see what the activity was all about and saw CWC was having yet another open house. I decided to distribute some informational fliers to those attending so that they could have a broader understanding of what was going on with this co-location.
As I was distributing fliers, a CWC parent called out to me "You are only hurting the children!" Oh on, I thought. Anytime a CWC parent has talked to me on the street, it ends with them yelling at me. I responded with a question "What about our children and what your school is doing to them?"
I reached out my hand and introduced myself. "Hi, I'm A--- Benitez. I live where those palm trees are." She gave a look of surprise like she had just seen the devil. She obviously knew who I was. So, I continued, "Yes, I'm that neighbor. The one CWC is placing all the blame on for the problems. I'm the only one with a yard sign. I'm the only one who signed a petition. I'm the only one who was present at all the demonstrations. The only one who is causing problem. I'm that neighbor." I took a breath and calmed down.
I told her I was well aware of what was being said about me and my family by the CWC community, and told her that the CWC community had made my family a target and that we had received gang threats and threats from the CWC community because of this.
She was surprised "Wait, I thought we [CWC] were the ones receiving gang threats." I explained to her the threat I received from some one who was representing themselves as part of the CWC community and the Culver City street gang. I explained how that threat from their community ultimately resulted in the graffiti on their school fence. She had no idea of any of this. I told her to check out my blog. I hope she's reading this right now. (Hi! Thanks for the conversation.)
We continued to talk about other issues with the co-location including the competition for resources on campus, the separate entrances, the parents in the bathroom, the spikes left by the CWC parents and a few other issues. It seemed like this was the first time she was hearing any of this. She didn't believe the spikes and I told that I could probably point one out right now. We walked a few feet before we found a spike inside campus under a CWC lunch table. I told her about the ordeal with the spikes.
The more we talked, the more I realized that the CWC community is not being told the truth. They are receiving a whitewashed, varnished version of the truth where anyone who brings up a problem is made a scapegoat for bringing up their concerns and this is exacerbating the problem with the co-location. Just like the April 8th CWC communication about the gang activity and traffic problems minimizes both problems and places the blame for the traffic problem on "A resident", CWC is sending a distorted message to their community about what is really going on and is trying to shift blame on to others. This is helping to fuel the tensions between the communities and is creating more problems for both communities.