Attorney General Eric Holder Attorney General Eric Holder pictured with an energetic student from the Challengers Boys & Girls Club.(L-R) Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Attorney General Eric Holder and former Governor of California Gray Davis. Photos by Dennis Lovelace/LovelaceMedia llc
Eric Holder, the first African American attorney general, toured the Challengers Boys & Girls Club during a short visit to Los AngelesThe U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, stopped by the Challengers Boys & Girls Club last Wednesday, toured the facility, greeted local dignitaries and club board members, and engaged the boys and girls in a serious dialogue about growing up and the challenges they would face.
The tour was conducted by Corey Dantzler, president and CEO of Challengers and he was joined by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LAPD Commissioner John Mack, Judge David Cunningham, Jr., LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, State Controller John Chiang, former Governor Gray Davis and Eric Boyd, representing Congresswoman Laura Richardson.
On entering Challengers, the attorney general (AG) and Commissioner Mack was engaged in light conversation and afterwards the AG shook hands with each individual guest present.Â Thereafter, the Mayor arrived and continued the tour with Holder.Â After visiting many of the rooms in the facility observing the children in action, everyone retired to the gymnasium where the AG addressed the boys and girls.Â There was a light moment when he took off his jacket and threw a couple basketballs.Â (It has been reported that Holder sometimes plays basketball with the President who is an avid basketball player).Â
The highlight of the AGâ€™s visit was when he spoke to the children directly.Â After Dantzler formally introduced Holder, the children roared their approval and the guests applauded.Â The AG, a staunch advocate of the kinds of preventative programs that Challengers exemplifies, thanked everyone for being there, and praised the work of the facility.Â He said, â€œAs attorney general, I am not only obligated to enforce the nationâ€™s laws, but I also work with organizations like Challengers to keep the community safe.â€
Holder mentioned President Barack Obama as an example of hard work and continued, â€œIt takes hard work to keep the community safe.â€Â And then he directed to the children, â€œWho is the President?â€Â They shouted in unison, â€œBarack Obama!â€
Returning to more serious tone, Holder went on to say, â€œWe are all responsible for the choices we make.Â You have the capacity and the ability to become whatever you want.â€Â He mentioned that he used to be a judge in Washington D.C. and also told the story of how Obama grew up fatherless partly with his grand parents.Â â€œI will come back in a couple of years to see how you all are doing.â€
The AG concluded, â€œI will take back a couple of T-shirts to two little girls who live in the White House, Sasha and Malia.â€
Dantzler then closed out the event and along with Holder and Villaraigosa, he mingled with the boys and girls, and took some pictures.
During his visit to L.A., Holder intended to visit Nickerson Gardens in Watts learn about the Watts Gang Task Force and to understand the reported violent crime and gang activity reduction in area.Â The AG believes that if the reduction program is successful in Watts, he may be able to duplicate it across the country.
Finally, part of Holderâ€™s trip to the Southland was to shore up support among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on a variety of issues, including crime and drug trafficking along the Southwest border, violence against women and gang prevention programs.Â He also met with California leaders to announce Recovery Act grant awards and to discuss criminal justice initiatives in the state.