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NGLEWOOD, Calif., July 27 As a verdict nears in the trial of two police officers charged in the videotaped beating of a 16-year-old, about 1,500 so-called peace ambassadors, many of them current or former gang members, are preparing to fan out in this city of 120,000 to spread the word that violence accomplishes nothing.
The riots in Los Angeles in 1965 and 1992 remain a searing memory here, and many people say they are determined to prevent such unrest from happening again.
"We've learned from the last two times that burning things down doesn't help," said Bill Burgess, a former gang member who is coordinating the peace ambassadors for a community group called the Stop the Violence: Increase the Peace Foundation. "It just makes things worse. We're still rebuilding from those riots."
The volunteers have been meeting for months, being trained in conflict resolution by social services workers, peace advocates and the police.
In Inglewood, just east of Los Angeles International Airport, the effort to keep the peace has thrown gang members, community and human-rights advocates, churches, the police and a Department of Justice task force into an alliance that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable.
"It's an extraordinary partnership," said Steve Goldsmith, director of the Centinela Valley Juvenile Diversion Project, a nonprofit organization. The idea, he said, is not only to promote calm should the jury acquit the officers but also to peacefully address issues like gang violence and the use of force by the police.
In the case at issue here, Officer Jeremy Morse, who is white, was seen picking up Donovan Jackson, an African-American teenager who was handcuffed and lying face down, by his collar and the seat of his pants and slamming him onto the trunk of a police car. Officer Morse then punched Mr. Jackson in the face.
The encounter occurred on July 6, 2002, after Mr. Jackson and his father, Coby Chavis, stopped for gas in Inglewood. The police said that they were questioning Mr. Chavis about an expired tag on his Ford Taurus and that Mr. Jackson had ignored a command to sit quietly in the back of the patrol car.
Officer Morse, who was fired from the force, was charged with assault under the color of authority. His colleague, Officer Bijan Darvish, who remains on the force, was charged with filing a false report.
After a seven-day trial, the jury began deliberating on Thursday and could deliver a verdict Monday.
Repeated showings of the videotape of the beating raised unhappy memories here of the Rodney King case. The acquittal of four officers in Mr. King's beating set off the 1992 riots. The rioters' mantra was "no justice, no peace."
The Jackson case also brought to mind more recent incidents in Los Angeles, such as that of a homeless black woman who was shot to death by an officer because, he said, she was holding a screwdriver in a threatening manner, and of an African-American actor who was shot nine times at a Halloween party after he pointed a fake gun at a police officer. In Riverside, east of Los Angeles, a young black woman sleeping in her car with a gun in her lap was shot to death by officers who had been unable to wake her. The officers were cleared in all three cases.
In Inglewood, where more than 90 percent of residents are black or Hispanic, several hundred residents marched on City Hall after the Jackson incident to demand an overhaul of the police department. But some of the furor was dissipated by town-hall meetings and 40 days of prayer vigils. Community groups plan more prayer on the day a verdict is reached.
Peace ambassadors like Reina Carrillo, a former member of the Calle 18 gang who is now director of the Inglewood Peace and Fairness Coalition, say they will pass out fliers urging people to remain calm, to report to "peace sanctuaries" a half-dozen local churches if they feel the need to vent their anger, and to attend a prayer vigil at City Hall.
It does not "make sense to burn your own community, to loot," said Ms. Carrillo, 24, who said she was arrested three times as a teenage gang member and once accidentally shot a bystander in the leg in a fight with another gang.
"But we have ignorant people who want free TV's, free furniture," she said. "They want to go out and riot over this stuff, when they don't even know the young man. You can have a crazy life when you're young, but sometimes you have to change."
Ms. Carrillo, who is of Mexican and Creole descent, said racial issues between blacks and whites still get in the way of daily life here. "If it had been a black officer and a black child, it would have been a whole different thing," she said, referring to the Jackson beating.
But times have changed, she and others say, and the virtual certainty of violence may be a thing of the past.
"It's a cultural shift from one that espouses 'no justice, no peace,' which is essentially a threat, to one that advocates peace and justice," said Khalid Shah, executive director of the Stop the Violence group, which was established here in 1989. "We received scores of calls from people who worried that what happened in '92 would happen again. So we wanted to do something that would set the tone for peace before the verdict, not after."
On July 7, Mr. Burgess and others say, a large group of gang members met to discuss, among other things, how to respond to an acquittal in the Jackson case, and opted to try to avoid rioting.
"It's not going to happen," said Darien Jackson, 35, who works in a clothing store on Market Street and who is unrelated to Donovan Jackson. "The gangs know the cops are prepared. They know the cops are coming. They've got some common sense too."