Arts And Culture

Lucha libre, lowriders at South LA's 'night out against crime'

Aug. 3, 2012, 12:42 p.m.

Newton's National Night Out will include lucha libre wrestling and low rider cars. (Pro Aero Photo/Flickr Creative Commons)

This Tuesday in South L.A., about 500 area residents are expected to turn out to eat BBQ, watch Lucha Libre wrestling and check out a sleek display of low rider cars, as part of Newton division's National Night Out (NNO).

For more than 15 years, the Newton police division has participated in this country-wide effort to generate support for anti-crime programs and enhance the alliance between residents and police, said LAPD Capt. Jorge Rodriguez. He said it's a chance for the community to come out and show that they own the streets.

"It demonstrates to the criminal element that they don't matter," said Rodriguez.

At a national level, last year's NNO involved law enforcement agencies, residents and businesses from more than 15,000 communities across every state -- equaling about 37 million people total who participated in the event.

Common forms of celebration for the night are cookouts, parades, block parties and youth programs -- and this year, the Newton divsion of the LAPD along with Nuevo South and other community groups, are organizing a "Lucha Libre and Low Rider Spectacular."

"That's what the community wanted to see," said Rodriguez.

National Night Out was created in 1984, by National Association of Town Watch (NATW) Executive Director Matt A. Peskin in an effort to encourage participation in anticrime efforts on a national level.

"While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places throughout the year," said Peskin in a statement.

Rodriguez echoed these sentiments when he said that this event was "another piece to the puzzle" -- part of an ongoing effort to fight crime and raise awareness in the area. A strategy he said the police division pursues through safety fairs and community gatherings -- such as last week's jazz festival.

The local police department partners with Nuevo South, a youth education and technology organization created by Jorge Nuño -- a South L.A. graphic artist.

Nuño said they've had lucha libre at these events before, and they're always a big hit. Because of how much the event has grown in recent years, he said they attract enough of a crowd to have multiple attractions operating simultaneously, which is where the low riders come in. These cars are often classics from the 1950s, that have been altered so they can switch the height at which they're driving. Police and community members are reaching out to local car clubs to round up these lowriders for display at the event, which takes place at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Main Street.

Tuesday's NNO event begins at 6 p.m. and goes until 9 p.m., and admission is free.

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