By Sergio Berrueta
Former Elan and Mayor of Bell Gardens Daniel Crespo was shot and killed on Sept. 30.
Crespo made an impact while at ELAC in the late 80s to early 90s, leading the Student Political Action to protest and fighting for student change to help students get the funds and needs they rightfully deserve.
President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Los Angeles Chapter, Cesar Arrendado was a close and personal friend of Crespo during their time at ELAC.
Arrendado, along with Crespo, helped form the Student Political Action club during their time at ELAC.
“Me, Daniel and a couple of friends formed (the Student Political Action) in response to the need for action on campus,” Arrendado said. “It was the late 80s going to early 1990 where California community colleges were being hit hard.”
Among the first acts as a group, the SPA held two rallies to fight for change.
The group felt ELAC’s administration at the time were not being responsible with enrollment, grants and classes.
“We were in a community known for its fight for social change and we wanted to carry on the tradition,” Arrendado said.
The rallies and protests lead to media coverage from local media outlets and even an article in the Los Angeles Times.
“We felt that their were people that just weren’t doing their job fully. By the end of year, not that I’m taking credit for it, there was a massive reshuffling of the administration,” Arrendado said.
Crespo was the founding president of the club and helped pave the club’s rise by leading students to continue to protest and march for their voices to be heard.
The club would post banners all over campus in order for people to join in on the movement.
“He had the makings of a leader. It did not surprise me years later that Daniel would be elected to the city council and eventually got to be mayor,” Arrendado said. “After being elected and re-elected after serving on the council for ten years, it seems that he had something to offer the people.”
Crespo was born and raised in the projects of Brooklyn, New York.
In his teenage years, he met his wife Lyvette in high school and became married after the birth of their daughter.
They moved from New York to Bell Gardens. Crespo came to ELAC in order to obtain an associate degree in Psychology/Family Counseling, leading to a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Public Administration from Cal State University, Los Angeles.
Crespo served as a probation officer before becoming the chairman of the Planning Commission. He was then elected to the city council in 2001.
On Sept. 30 during a personal family argument, Crespo was shot and killed by his wife, sending a shockwave throughout the community.
“He was always involved with our community. He was always going door-to-door asking if we were going to participate with community events and city events,” local resident Joel Reyes said. “Everyone remembers him as a genuine man. He and some members of our association organized events for the kids in the complex (Vinas de Campana) during the holiday season.”
Arrendado himself did not know of the circumstance until he received a personal message for questions from a fellow journalist.
“They asked me if I knew the mayor of Bell Gardens. She asked, ‘Can I interview you?’ and I went,’Uhh… okay?’ and was wondering what it is for. She just replied with ‘Let me call you,’ Arrendado said. “She calls me and told me that he has been shot.”
Arrendado agreed to a scheduled interview and said he was to be updated. The news finally came later on.
“Unfortunately, I got a call back and she said that he had passed,” Arrendado said. “It was very hard to contact all my friends and say that Daniel has died.”
Arrendado remained quite close to Crespo in their later years, with Crespo still working for the local government and Arrendado continuing his journalistic aspirations.
The death of Crespo is currently undergoing investigation.
“I just wish everyone around well and good luck to those involved,” Arrendado said. “It’s tragic. It’s absolutely tragic.”
The public memorial service for Crespo was held on Monday at Rose Hills, followed by his burial.