The power of a picnic table

Moments after he was gunned down in an obscenely-senseless act of callow bravado by another 17-year-old blindly trying to impress an older member and mentor in what police categorize as a criminal street gang, 17-year-old Luis Miranda collapsed and died on a wooden picnic table at the southwest edge of Maxwell Farms Regional Park.

It was Oct. 22, 2007, and the Miranda murder did at least two things.

It galvanized the community into months of soul-searching meetings, committee formations, preventive measures and heightened law enforcement activities, the results of which are hard to measure and harder still to judge.

And it forged a bond of grief, celebration and hope between friends and acquaintances who knew, cared for or simply identified with the young man that some of his friends insisted was in the process of getting a somewhat misdirected life back on track.

The wooden table he died on was removed from the picnic area where it sat and, with permission from Regional Parks, and in a solemn procession, was carried up to the edge of the playing field near the parking lot for the Boys & Girls Club.

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