Two weeks ago, the San Mateo County Times featured Lara Williams' freshman reading intervention class at Menlo Atherton High School and how the students have been affected by East Palo Alto Officer Richard May's death. May was shot to death in East Palo Alto; gang member Alberto Alvarez is suspected in the crime.

The following are letters written by the students, many of whom have family members, friends or neighbors in gangs, about their views on the violence.

Gang problem

WHILE THE DEATH of East Palo Alto Police Officer Richard May should be mourned, it is important to remember that we need to fix all the gang problems. It's important to think about what motivates people in gangs before we consider a solution.

Gang violence is motivated by parents not taking care of their kids. Sometimes people join gangs because their parents die and they have nobody to be with. I have observed that many people join gangs because they are scared that they will get jumped by other people and have nobody to help them. But if you are a gang member, you might get killed, and even innocent people get killed as well. People have a hard time getting out of gangs because if they do, they could get killed, so a lot of them move to different countries or kill themselves.

In Los Angeles, there is a program called Homeboy and Homegirl Industries. The purpose of this program is to keep kids from going back to gangs. It has kept a lot of gangsters out of gangs by working in a cafe. There are kids from different gangs, but they get along. By bringing this program to EPA, a lot of gangsters will get out of gangs.

Daniel Valencia

East Palo Alto

Leaving a gang

GANG VIOLENCE is motivated by people who think joining a gang will give them money (by selling drugs), a group to belong to and power. People join gangs because they didn't finish school or have a future to look forward to. People have a hard time leaving gangs; they could get killed, jumped or harassed.

The best solution to ending gang-related violence is to use restraining orders. This solution would involve hiring more lawyers and police, getting information from the FBI, and resources from the community about drug dealers.

In Los Angeles, a program called Homeboy Industries has been effective because it targets people who want to leave gangs, and they help them by removing tattoos and giving them jobs.

Gang violence affects the entire community. It is important that we commit to solving this problem because if we don't, East Palo Alto is still going to be a dangerous place and nothing will change. Too many people are dying.

Diana Arellano

A better education

THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE die from gang-related violence, from drive-bys and shootouts. I think Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should go to every bad neighborhood and kill all the bad people that are in gangs. When he kills them, he should also take all their drugs and throw them away. When he's finished with all the bad people, he should say "AL-BE-BACK." Then, he needs to save all the unfortunate people that need help and give them each at least

$1 million. He could help future gangsters by being a good example to children.

The best solution on ending gang-related violence is offering a better education. We need teachers that can control their students more than they can control them now.

I hope the police consider helping younger kids by giving them some type of job they could have in the future. For example, they could work by going to hospitals and helping people in need of special help, or people that can't get around on their own. They should also create more programs like Homeboy and Homegirl Industries around the world.

Kenny Flores

Drugs, money

and violence

GANG VIOLENCE is motivated by drugs, money, and violence. It is also motivated by not having a good childhood. I've observed that teenagers are more involved in gangs than in school. It is important that we commit to solving this problem because we want to be safe, and we want our teenagers to have a better childhood.

In Los Angeles, there's a program called Homeboy and Homegirl Industries that has been effective in helping gang members get out of gangs. The best solution to ending gang violence is to encourage more people to join this program.

I hope that people realize that gangs caused a lot of trouble, sadness, and danger to young people. Restraining orders are not going to work. Gang members aren't going to change fast, and we should just help the gang members get out and start a better life. I also think that gangs are never going to disappear completely, and we can't change some people's nature, only God can. We should just trust in God that he's going to change them; we should have faith.

Ana Karen Hernandez

Menlo Park