“The story of Compton is not just what’s changed, but how it’s changed; community policing opened a door, and community activists were well positioned to walk through it. It’s a tale of larger cultural trends, like the death of crack, and distinctly local initiatives, like gun buyback programs in grocery store parking lots. And it involves excesses of violence so dramatic that the gang leaders themselves recoiled, and worked to calm things down.

It’s also a story of good, hardworking people, hungry to restore a sense of pride in their city. But those residents know all too well that their hard-won gains could prove to be fleeting, given the howling winds of economic distress at the door. And so Compton’s leaders are pushing hard to stay one step ahead of forces they know could prove their undoing. “Ninety-five percent of the people in Compton want to do the right thing,” Compton’s mayor, Eric J. Perrodin, tells NEWSWEEK. “But of course, if people can’t eat, they’re going to do what they need to survive. And that usually means crime.” In other words, “Straight Outta Compton” is an album no one here seems all that eager to play again.”

Read Jessica Bennett’s full article “Straight into Compton” in Newseeek (March 24, 2009)

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