Once again, this week’s Leftovers column:
***As a note, Monday’s column was written as a first-person narrative by Jennifer McLain. In it, she talks about her recent move from West Covina to Monrovia. That’s right, now we both live in Mayberry, er, the All-American City.
After all, what does West Covina have to offer a person in their twenties?
Sure, it has great freeway access, Big League Dreams and the city is home to the Tribune’s headquarters.
But there’s no ocean, no downtown and nowhere to go out on a Saturday night.
I learned to make do, but after my house was robbed twice, a friend’s car window was smashed in on my street and I was awakened nightly by the sound of cop cars and helicopters, I had enough of the “Hub of the San Gabriel Valley.”
That was, until I moved to Monrovia last week.
I remembered reading in the paper that Monrovia had its share of gang violence since December, but since I lived in West Covina I never really read with interest.
So I figured that the little haven I found on Royal Oaks Drive would finally give me what I wanted.
It was close to downtown, it was within walking distance to hiking trails, and there were national grocery stores within blocks of my house.
What were the chances that I would stumble on a neighborhood that was in the center of gang violence?
Turns out, those chances were pretty high.
I knew something was wrong the day I started moving in my things and I noticed a pair of towering flood lights shining down on a home in the 500 block on Royal Oaks Drive in Monrovia.
Equally strange was the day I came home from work only to see a group of kids that were playing in the street scatter when a low-flying helicopter ambushed our neighborhood.
And even more absurd was when I was carrying boxes from my car to my house, and I overheard a boy who looked to be about 8 years old say to his friend, “Bang, bang. I shot you, bro.”
That’s when I started researching my new street — although I realize that I should have done this before I moved in.
On Royal Oaks Drive, there have been two drive-bys, including one as recently as July 12.
Sheriff’s Temple Station Capt. Richard Shaw said that the towering floodlight, which shines into my window, is there to scare away gang members. Great.
Around the corner, there have been three other drive-by shootings since December, and all of the victims were Black and believed to have been targeted by Latinos.
My heart sunk when I realized that I moved into the middle of a race war, and it was at that point that I was really missing West Covina.
I’ll take a robbery over a drive-by any day.
Then again, my neighborhood in West Covina certainly had its share of issues.
But all neighborhoods do.
As much time as we spend reporting on the crime that occurs in cities throughout the San Gabriel Valley, we also see neighborhoods overcoming the violence and developing a sense of community.
I’m hoping for the same in Monrovia.