L.A.'s Mid-City still a community up for grabs
Residents and merchants take pride in sprucing up the evolving neighborhood, but taggers and gang-bangers remain a problem.
The old-timers seated on the patio at the Oki Dog remember when the neighborhood around Pico and La Brea was truly dangerous.
Twenty years ago, gangbanging and crack-dealing meant "killings on every block," a fellow who calls himself "Smooth" recalled.
Now, the area is quiet enough that Smooth, and the others who survived that era, can send their kids out on errands alone.
That's why Smooth was shocked when Ronald Barron was shot to death Sunday night outside the Cottage Bar next door. "I had just watched the Super Bowl there," Smooth said. "I left for a minute, came back and he was dead."
Barron was a former gangbanger who grew up in the area, turned his life around and was working to keep kids out of gangs. Police say he was shot to death by a 16-year-old tagger Barron tried to stop from vandalizing a storefront