Celebrating life at Euclid and Imperial, once known as Four Corners of Death
There was a whole lot of life visible at Euclid and Imperial avenues Saturday afternoon, as Southeast San Diego residents gathered for the Fifth Annual Four Corners of Life Celebration.
They came to eat, dance and just generally take ownership of a place that Mykeah Simpson, 26, said has struggled under a painful label for too many years.
“I think it’s pretty genius to come out and celebrate right here. It was always known as the Four Corners of Death; now we’re giving life to it,” Simpson said.
The author of Broken But Healed, a self-published memoir of her struggles after a horrible freeway accident left her paralyzed, Simpson was among a group of locals who set up booths at the small triangular plaza on the intersection’s southwest corner near a small stage that was scheduled for entertainment of all kinds until 6 p.m.
In the 1980s and 1990s the intersection in Lincoln Park earned its grim moniker because it was the space where rival gangs often clashed. San Diego police Lt. Benjamin Kelso, who said he has spent most of his 29-year career in the area, remembered the violence that brought the wrong kind of attention.
“When I was assigned out here in ‘89, ‘90, there were shootings and retaliation shootings within minutes of each other,” Kelso said.
He made it clear that Saturday’s event was not a rally. It was not an event meant to drum up community support to do something about the violence. Rather, Four Corners of Life, he said, was truly a celebration, a happy way to rejoice in the work that so many have already done.
“It’s not just law enforcement, not just the city government. The community is just as involved. There are fraternal organizations and sororities involved. Everybody’s pitching in here to try to make the situation better, and it’s working,” Kelso said.
Nonprofit advocacy group Paving Great Futures is one of the key groups responsible for bringing Four Corners of Life into being and keeping it going.
Barry Harris Jr., the organization’s chief executive, said that reaching the five-year mark shows that the community is serious about erasing the Four Corners of Death label from the community’s collective conscience.
“Being here for five years, it shows that there is a desire to change the narrative of this community to one where we are expressing life, love, living and learning,” Harris said.
Paving Great Futures member Janell Davis added that there is a little intentional symbolism in choosing to gather at the very location where that label is affixed.
“We’re coming together not only at an intersection but as a community,” Davis said.