Was an LA Activist Shot for His Anti-Crime Efforts?

A Los Angeles man who wrote an online newsletter targeting crime may have been gunned down in retaliation for his efforts to clean up his Venice community, neighbors and a city councilwoman say.

James Edwin Richards edited the Neighborhood News, which covered the crime-ridden Oakwood section of Venice where he had lived for 20 years. Something of a controversial figure, Richards had often videotaped criminals and gang members, and he was a block captain for his community’s Model Neighborhood Program, friends say.

“This appears to have been a straightforward assassination,” said City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter.

Richards was shot several times near his driveway after returning home from an all-night gym on Wednesday.

Galanter, who herself was slashed in the throat by an intruder in her Venice home in 1987, says that “for a long time it was kind of a morbid joke in the neighborhood that Jim had better be careful or he was going to get shot.”

“It is a heinous act meant to intimidate the community and threaten residents into staying quiet in the face of a criminal takeover of their community by gang members and drug dealers,” she notes.

Police say they have no motive for the killing, but are confident they will find the killer.

In his newsletter, Neighborhood News, Richards reported everything from petty theft to drug sales and drive-by shootings, and was often first to arrive at a crime scene.

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