Vargas: Let’s honor Ximena Meza by ending gang violence

By Joe Vargas

Wednesday night 9-year-old Ximena Meza was shot and killed while playing in front of her apartment in Anaheim. She was an innocent girl who was the victim of what appears to be gang violence.

I would hope the Anaheim community is as outraged and disgusted by the killing as I am.

I have always spoken out against gangs. I feel they destroy the quality of life in communities, create an unsafe environment and contaminate future generations of young people.

That being said, I am also a strong advocate of prevention and education. Preparing children to resist the temptation of gangs is the first step. Second is education and support for parents whose children are at risk. Communities need to be there for those parents who are desperately trying to do their best to combat the influence of gangs.

But until the threat of violence no longer exists, enforcement needs to remain a priority. Sentencing enhancements for violent offenders makes our communities safer by keeping gang members off our streets.

Injunctions keep gang members from congregating and turning streets into war zones.

The mere presence of gangs draws rival gang members looking to even scores. This makes it dangerous for every member of the community. In the most dangerous communities it is well understood you can’t go out at night. That needs to change.

It also means we need cops on the streets constantly contacting and identifying current and future gang members. This can be tough to do when there are loud voices in the community screaming harassment at every turn.

For those detractors I would ask they just take a long look at little Ximena’s photo and ask themselves how their actions helped prevent her killing.

The tragic death of Ximena is a wake up call for all communities. Her death should motivate every community member to support the work that needs to be done when it comes to stopping gang violence.

It’s the least we can do for a 9-year-old girl who will no longer be there to kiss her family good night.