Watts Pool Reopened after Attacks
By Alice Walton, City News Service
Published July 3, 2008

The 109th Street Pool in Watts, which was closed by the city after six employees were attacked by as many as 30 men June 22, reopened June 25, amid promises of beefed-up security. Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of General Services will step up security at the swimming pool and in the surrounding community, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at an afternoon news conference last Wednesday. Watts residents who already patrol midnight basketball games in the community will also oversee security at the pool.

“The only way to reclaim a neighborhood is with neighbors, working together, saying that we won’t tolerate anyone interfering with our young people’s right to be able to go to a pool on a hot summer day and learn how to swim,” Villaraigosa said.

Trouble at the pool began Sunday June 22 in the sweltering heat, when the six pool workers were overwhelmed by the large group of men. The pool manager, a lifeguard and a locker room attendant were thrown into the water during the rampage, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the attack. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who represents the Watts community, said her father, the late county Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, was responsible for opening pools in South Los Angeles because he believed children deserve a place to cool off in the summer.

“Nothing is worse, anywhere but particularly in Watts, in a hot summer than having a pool that’s closed down because a bunch of thugs decided to come in here on Sunday and ruin this experience for all of our kids,” Hahn said.

Community members will patrol the pool area through the end of the summer, Hahn said.

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