Growing threats of violence over social media have prompted the Long Beach Ministers Alliance (LBMA) to schedule a community meeting with police officers Tuesday evening, according to alliance officials.
The meeting is scheduled to take place Tuesday, July 7, at 6:00PM at Temple Baptist Church, 2825 East 10th Street.
Though no one is exactly sure who has posted the threats—which have appeared on SnapChat, Facebook and Instagram—alliance officials alluded to rumors that the East Side Longos gang is behind the threats.
According to the Long Beach Police Department's (LBPD) Gangs and Violent Crimes Division Commander Bob Luman, posts alluding to "Long Beach Mexicans" putting a "green light" on black and Asian women, as well as threats related to shooting as many as 150 people emerged as a red flag to police.
"Hispanic gangs don't usually target women and children," said Luman. He said the LBPD's gang intelligence looked into the reported threats and did find the social media images, but after contacting numerous gang members on the street, did not find any evidence suggesting the Longos knew about the threats.
"Younger gang members said they didn't know, and other gang members said they don't know where the threats came from," said Luman. The LBPD has been in contact with bordering law enforcement agencies, as well at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's gang intelligence unit. No additional information has emerged suggesting the validity of the social media threats.
Luman suggested one possible reason for the social media threats was as a false flag operation by a rival gang.
"It's not uncommon for rival gangs to smear one another, for one to put the heat on another gang," said Luman.
LBMA President Gregory Sanders said he approached Luman about the threats, to describe rising anxieties in the community, especially after the death last Wednesday of 21-year-old Signal Hill resident Alicia Faith Todd. The two decided it would be healthy to host a community meeting that would allow the gang intelligence unit to present their findings, that the threats are most likely false and unfounded, and be on hand to answer questions.
“We want to bring the community together with gang detectives to receive a meaningful update,” Sanders said. “Our role as pastors and clergy has always been to provide information, hope, for change."
Police had previously reported a lack of suspect information or motive surrounding the killing of Alicia Faith Todd. Detectives continue to look into her death, and have not seen any evidence to heighten their concern that the social media threats are linked to her murder, according to Luman.
Luman said social media often "exacerbates fear" by increasing exposure to reports of crimes occuring, making it appear that crime is increasing even when it is decreasing.
"Last year, we were at an over 40 year low in crime," said Luman. "Long Beach continues to be a great place to work, to do business, to live."