On a Tuesday evening where Los Angeles traffic is bumper-to-bumper, neighbors on Somerset Drive gathered together for their Annual Crenshaw Manor National Night Out (CMNNO) festival. Neighbors enjoyed live music, food and camaraderie, while learning about the Los Angeles neighborhood developments, activities, and city resources on August 2, at the intersection of Somerset Drive & MLKJ (Martin Luther King Jr.) Blvd. Sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and Crenshaw Manor Neighborhood Watch, NNO Committee and organized by block watches, non-profit organizations and police departments, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer and better places to live,” according to crenshawmanor.org.
The event is meant to increase awareness of police programs in communities, such as drug prevention, town watch, neighborhood watch, and other anti-crime efforts.
“National Night Out is an opportunity to bring together neighbors, celebrate our communities, and get to know the men and women who devote their lives to keeping us safe,” said Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44).
“No one said that jobs in law enforcement would be easy, and we have been reminded lately just how dangerous they can be. But these local heroes have chosen to take this heavy duty upon them and for that we will forever be grateful. We know that we are at our best when there is strong trust between our law enforcement officers and the community.
“I applaud the folks who do the dangerous job every day and somehow find the time to get to know the people in the communities they serve. They go above and beyond the call of duty and our communities are better for it. Tonight is a reminder that we are all in this together! I encourage everyone to embrace National Night Out, meet your local law enforcement officers and firefighters, and thank them for their service.”
“For me it’s a great tool to come out and meet community members, especially right now,” said Jose Saldana, Police Officer III+I Senior Lead Officer of Southwest Area and Crenshaw Manor.
“There are a lot of people that moved in and it’s a great opportunity for me to meet everyone that’s moving into the neighborhood. It’s a nice time that we can come out here together and talk instead of us going from one neighborhood meeting to the next, just talk to one another other.”
Not just a block party filled with festivities, the event informed Crenshaw Manor on the various amenities pertaining to the community. Different departments and bureaus displayed and distributed pamphlets and flyers regarding services for family caregivers, family emergency supply kits for disasters, knowledge on how to deal with the criminal justice system, the rights of crime victims, services for domestic abuse, information on identity theft and fraud to a helpful information form for city services prepared by Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson Jr. of District 10.
The L.A. County Department of Health Services, city of Los Angeles Department of Aging, Fraud Watch Network by AARP, Southwest D.A.R.T (Domestic Abuse Response Team), L.A. Metro, LAPD Cadet Academy, City Council and LADWP were among many of the organizations and agencies there to assist neighbors.
“It’s important to mingle and communicate with the community, literally we don’t get out as much and when we do, we try to stay as positive as we can. At these events, they like the Department of Water and Power, so when they come to the table, they’ll talk about a bill or that they like working for the department. Two people retired from the Department of Water and Power supported the CMNNO. It’s an opportunity to get to know people and educate them on water and energy conservation, all the types of water supplies and all the different things related to Water and Power, stated representatives of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
On the significance of Crenshaw Manor National Night Out, “Its very important because it lets the community know what’s going on, what type of agencies they have in the police department that can give them all types of help that they are looking for, we work for Southwest D.A.R.T. (Domestic Abuse Response Team), victims of domestic violence and victims of crime. A lot of people don’t know that you can get help and these are the resources that we have, people are not aware of the services until it is too late,” States Judy and Monique, reps. from D.A.R.T. The organization offers counseling, medical assistance, with no insurance involved, assistance with funeral and burials, relocation and advocating for children who have been sexually abused as well as serving as a “go between” for the court and the law enforcement process for the underrepresented.
“Personally for me, I’m able to connect with my community, police officers as well. I can speak to kids about how they can be involved in the police program and having a voice in the community, states an LAPD Cadet.
Aside from the informative segment, the CMNNO was set up similar to a backyard cookout with kids running about, accompanied by a music band Black Nile and a raffle. It was evening picnic filled with friendly new and old faces. Despite NNO taking place on a weekday, families came out to enjoy themselves and learn about their community.
Roy Poston who has lived in the community for 12 years stated that CMNNO was a good thing. “We all need to interact with each other. Every time we turn around, something is happening. If we are here and aware of everything and know our neighbors, it will be easier for us to report stuff. We know the officers in the community, we see them all the time. Poston’s house was broken into, officers replaced everything that was stolen from his house within 24 hours while tracking down the criminals. As a proud neighbor, Poston bragged about his Smok N’ Joe’s chili, stating it’s the “baddest chili there is.”
Band Black Nile kept the event going with live music. “What we represent is Black kids in the community trying to uplift, we cover all music from Black American soul. There is a lot happening right now, people getting shot down of all colors,” explains band member Aaron Shaw’s contribution to Crenshaw Manor National Night Out.
As a block club we support National Night Out, the police come to our meeting every month, they inform us of what’s going in the community, we get to know them on a first name basis. Officer Saldana is very informative and is always on call for anything we need. The community is becoming more diverse now, a lot of people we don’t know until we come to an event like this, it makes it worthwhile, states an AARP rep.
The demographics are transforming the face of Crenshaw Manor. Comprised of African Americans, Hispanics and Asian home owners and businesses, there is an influx of Caucasians among other races moving into the heart of Los Angles, changing the racial demographics while integrating with established residents. New neighbors were excited to meet others, stating they have been in the community for 2 years and counting. CMNNO reflected a melting pot of neighbors breathing new life into the community.
Community organizer, Natalie Powell from the Crenshaw Manor Neighborhood Watch, NNO Committee focused on how healthy the neighborhood has become. She explained that the community leaders and neighbors support each other and that they are professionals and upstanding pillars of the community that uplift the community in Crenshaw Manor.
To learn more about Crenshaw Manor National Night Out, neighborhood developments and programs, you are welcome to attend the monthly Crenshaw Manor Association meetings, held the first Wednesday of every month from 6 to 7 pm at 3939 Marlton Avenue. Meetings are also held Fridays at 6:30pm at our local fire station #94 at the corner of Coliseum & Martin Luther King Blvd.