Lincoln Park Neighborhood Celebrates Changes At ‘4 Corners Of Life’
Monday, July 8, 2019
Photo by Claire Trageser
For years, the Lincoln Park neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Euclid and Imperial avenues existed in the crossfire of gang violence — in 2005 alone there were 134 violent crimes and four homicides.
It became known as the "four corners of death."
But then community members began reclaiming their neighborhood and crime dropped significantly. Last year, for example, the number of violent crimes was half what it was in 2005 and there were no homicides.
And for the past six years, residents have paused annually to celebrate what they now call "the four corners of life."
The celebration has evolved into a festival that draws people from across the city, including luminaries such as state Assemblyman (and mayoral candidate) Todd Gloria, San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit and City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, who represents the area. The event featured booths selling food, jewelry and t-shirts; and a stage with live music and spoken word performances.
"This is a physical symbol that there is life here," said Armand King, the founder of the nonprofit Paving Great Futures and one of the event's organizers. "We need people not only who are here but who are just driving by here to see this positivity, see this happening in this community."
King said he lived in the area for 30 years and has never seen the space transformed the way it is during the festival.
"We had to create it, we have to keep it going," he said. "This is year six, stay tuned for year 20."
James Bell said he grew up nearby the intersection and remembers the constant presence of drug dealing and police patrols.
"Now, you don't see that as much anymore, since we've been changing the name from 'four corners of death' to 'four corners of life,' a change has taken effect," he said.
There are still some crimes in the area — since the start of 2019, there have been eight drug and alcohol arrests and 17 assaults within a half-mile of the intersection, according to statistics from the San Diego Police Department.
But, Bell said, it's much improved.
"People from the community that used to be in the other life, that turned their life around, they've come back to show them there's another way, and it's impactful," he said.
Rodney Stowers, who said he grew up in the area and ended up serving time in prison, has, in his own way, embodied the change. He had a booth at the festival, selling cannabis-infused snow cones.
"This is something nobody would have been able to describe 10 years ago," he said. "It's a beautiful thing."
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