(November 16, 2003) -- In a display of respect and determination, neighborhood residents, city officials and the brother of slain LBPD Officer Daryle W. Black gathered at 2023 Pasadena Ave. on November 15 to unveil a sign marking the site of a former dilapidated apartment building as a future neighborhood park named in honor of Officer Black.
In April 2000, Officer Black was gunned down in the line of duty in the nearby 1900 block of Lime Ave.
An unofficial honor guard of uniformed LBPD officers, joined by Park Rangers and LB firefighters, filled the street and sidewalk.
Among those attending were LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, 6th district Councilwoman Laura Richardson, 9th district Councilman Val Lerch...
...and 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes-Uranga and LBCC Trustee Roberto Uranga. They were just a few of the many local dignitaries and community leaders (we name others below) who took part.
Councilwoman Richardson told the crowd that the park fulfills a commitment she made to Officer Black's family at his funeral to do something special in the community, something permanent.
Officer Black's brother, Connell, told the gathering:
"Laura, I remember that day when you said that. I mean a lot of people said things back in those days, but...not everybody followed up. You were one of the few true lights of commitment through the whole thing."
The site will be landscaped and include lighting, a playground, picnic table, benches and a water fountain. A community member indicated that some of the amenities were recommended by neighborhood children who have already begun to use the lot for soccer and the like.
Mayor O'Neill said, "This is a special day...in a way that touches the heart, because what we're seeing today is hope, and joy for children, and we're also having a remembrance time...I think that today is a result of what's happened in our past, when people are mobilized...[Today] is a sorrowful day, but yet it's one that has hope, one that's exciting for young people, one that is going to make a difference in the community..."
Deputy Police Chief D.C. Bretza noted the event is dedicated to Daryle...and called for a moment of silence for Officer Black. He then said what happened a few blocks away was an event nobody would ever forget.
"You can see by the large turnout of police officers here, personally it means a lot to the police officers here and to the residents in the area that were out there and witnessed the things that happened. The memories that go on from it, some of the police officers here have those memories every day, nightly."
All four LBPD Division Commanders attended alongside a sizable turnout of rank and file officers. Also attending was LB Police Officers Association president Steve James.
LBReport.com posts extended excerpts of the proceedings below.
As first reported by LBReport.com, in September 2003 Councilwoman Richardson sponsored a City Council resolution to name the neighborhood park in Officer Black's honor.
On April 29, 2000, Officer Black died in a hail of gunfire unleashed by a gang member. Officer Black's partner was severely injured...and a pregnant woman in a nearby home was also hit (she and her child survived). The perpetrator has been tried, convicted and sentenced to death.
Officer Black regularly patrolled the neighborhood and was beloved by many in the area. At the time of his passing, another media outlet reported that a police dispatcher conveyed the news on the police radio with the poignant announcement, "EOW" ("end of watch").
Officer Black's name will now stand permanent watch in that neighborhood on that park.
Councilwoman Laura Richardson: ...One good thing about having a lot of challenges is that when you get results, it's very obvious. And today, this is a perfect example of a site that used to be a very crime-ridden site, a site that really hindered I believe the neighbors from having a positive quality of life, and it has now turned around into being something really special...
The reason why we're here today is we had an unfortunate situation in our city, and I'll never forget when it happened, when I got that phone call. And I'll tell you, as a Councilmember, people have no idea [of] the sense of responsibility that you have. And unfortunately, I get a lot of phone calls about a lot of bad things that happen.
But this particular call it was a little different, because not only did I feel responsible for the community, but I felt responsible for an employee, and for someone in our family. And I kind of felt like I let that person down because a lot of times crime happens because some of the things that we have the responsibility to do as elected officials.
Sometimes I believe crime happens because if we don't give our young people positive things to do, what are they then going to do? And so I felt very responsible that we had, I guess I would say, we had a situation where in our own community, some young people did not respect the life of someone else.
And so at that point I really kind of said to myself...you know what, before I'm through this community is going to be different than what it was then. And that has in fact happened.
...[W]hen I went to the funeral, and met the Black family...I made them a commitment on that very same day, and that was probably about four or five days after this happened, and I said to them...in our community, we are going to do something special, something permanent, that everyone can remember the sacrifices that our men and women of the city of Long Beach do every single day.
And I didn't want us to have that terrible tragedy, for us to lose everything and not to learn something. So forever, from now on, once this is done, people will drive by and they'll go, "Who was Officer Daryle Black?" And they'll start to learn about what did he do and how did he serve. And his service wasn't just one day or one month or one year. He actually served in the military as well.
And I'm hoping that this spot, by our having this here, we will teach all of our young people and our neighbors to respect one another, to love one another, and to look out for one another...
Mayor Beverly O'Neill: This is a special day, as I say often, but it's special in a way that touches the heart, because what we're seeing today is hope, and joy for children, and we're also having a remembrance time.
A time for remembrance, I think, if you look back in April of 2000, I think each one of you might remember what happened that day, and you knew what you were doing when you found out about our fallen police officer. You knew how you felt, and I'm almost positive that all of you...can have that feeling in your heart of the desperation that we all felt.
And I think that what happened after, with the service that we had for Daryle Black, showed something actually to the world about how we feel about our family members. The service, I can remember what I said, I said "I don't want to be here." I don't want to know that there are people that have the attitude that life is not precious...
I'm so glad [Officer Black's] brother is here today. He's becoming a member of our family in the city of Long Beach. But that did something for our community that nothing has done for it, before or since, since I can remember. And that brought us to the understanding that we need to take care of each other. And I think that still permeates today, and I was so sad but I was also very proud of the city of Long Beach and the feeling they had, and the outpouring that came from this tragedy that brought us together.
But I think that today is a result of what's happened in our past, when people are mobilized. As Laura was saying, she made a commitment at that time, and I know some of the rest of you did too. You made a commitment that this place is going to be better. And I think that the Central Neighborhood Advisory Committee made a commitment to make it better.
And all of these young people that won't remember about Daryle Black will have a lesson when they find out about Daryle Black. But they will be playing on a ground that will be lovely, landscaped, will be for children. And I've talked to some of the neighbors already about what's going to happen on this corner...I'm very proud of Parks and Recreation and the Redevelopment Agency that they made a commitment to make something better, and they're all working towards that.
And when you think of finding money -- which we can't find in the city -- when you think that they found some money someplace, you know that they have worked very hard in trying to make this happen.
So today is a sorrowful day, but yet it's one that has hope, one that's exciting for young people, one that is going to make a difference in the community...
Mr. Connell Black (officer Black's brother): First of all, I'd like to start off my using the words of a philosopher I remember while growing up. "It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood." [laughter]...It really is. It's a great day here.
First of all, I've got to give honor and thanks to Christ. Without him, none of us would be here...
...I just wanted to share one Scripture with you, because to me it sort of exemplifies what Daryle was about and what's happening here in the community. It's John 15:13, it's very simply said in the new American standard version, it says, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."
Here is an example of what my brother did. He gave his life willingly because he loved this community. He bragged about you guys so much...He wanted me to come to California all the time. He kept talking about [that this] is one of the best places in the world. And he loved working here, more than you will ever know.
He loved the kids. He loved kids everywhere. And I think the story behind this park is a good reflection of what he was about. About seeing people where they were at, and trying to make them better, helping them to help themselves.
And in this park here...now it's going to be turned for good. For that, we're thankful. And for all the kids that may never even know him, the fact that again, it's a living testimony for what he was about was being for the kids.
And just one last thing...many thanks from [our] family. It cannot be expressed well enough how many thanks, especially my Mom [unable to attend] wants to thank all of you for
[Turns to Councilwoman Richardson] Laura, I remember that day when you said that [committed to do something special and permanent]. I mean a lot of people said things back in those days, but...not everybody followed up. You were one of the few true lights of commitment through the whole thing.
And for Mayor too. I remember that day too. I'm not sure I can remember everything I said, but it was a unique day.
And even an acorn, when by itself it's nothing, but when it's planted, it dies, it grows up into a great tree. So I just hope this day is a launching point for a great day for this community...
Deputy Police Chief D.C. Bretza: ...This event is dedicated to Daryle. I'd like to just take a few seconds for a moment of silence for Daryle.
The tragic event a little over three years ago happened just a few blocks away from here. It's an event nobody will ever forget. And you can see by the large turnout of police officers here, personally it means a lot to the police officers here and to the residents in the area that were out there and witnessed the things that happened.
The memories that go on from it, some of the police officers here have those memories every day, nightly. They get flashbacks and memories of the bullet ridden police car out in the middle of the street, and the injured officers, and the massive amount of blood that was out there.
So from each and every police officer's heart, we thank you for this park. It means a lot to the police officers that were out there that night, and to those that were working other parts of the city...
And we also thank all the members of the Fire Department that were out there that night that rendered the first aid.
And also a very special thank you to the community residents, a number of you may be here that called in that night with information and that's how we ended up arresting the suspects. It was information received from all the residents in the area, that's what resulted in the arrests.
So, again from all the hearts of all our police officers, thank you.
And Daryle thanks you too.