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Barbara J. Calhoun
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Compton is a city in southern Los Angeles County, California, United States, situated southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The city of Compton is one of the oldest cities in the county and on May 11, 1888, was the eighth city to incorporate. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 96,455. It is known as the "Hub City" due to its geographic centrality in Los Angeles County. Neighborhoods in Compton include Sunny Cove, Leland, Downtown Compton, and Richland Farms. The city is generally a working class city (some middle-class neighborhoods) and is home to a relatively young community, at an average 25 years of age, compared to the American median age of 35.
Since the 1980s, the city of Compton was popularized in American media due to many hip hop groups and rappers originating from the community, such as the gangsta rap group N.W.A, who are best known for their debut album, Straight Outta Compton, and are widely considered one of the seminal acts of the gangsta rap sub-genre. The city of Compton as well as southern Los Angeles County in general is notorious for its heavy concentration of gangs and gang violence, such as the Bloods, the Crips, and Sureños, which all originated in the Los Angeles area.
In 1784, the Spanish Crown deeded a tract of over 75,000 acres (300 km2) to Juan Jose Dominguez in this area. The tract was named Rancho San Pedro. Dominguez's name was later applied to the Dominguez Hills community south of Compton. The tree that marked the original northern boundary of the rancho still stands at the corner of Poppy and Short streets. The rancho was sub-divided and parcels were sold within the Californios of Alta California until the lands were ceded after the Mexican-American war in 1848. American immigrants acquired most of the rancho lands after 1848.
In 1867, Griffith Dickenson Compton led a group of thirty pioneers to the area. These families had traveled by wagon train south from Stockton, California in search of ways to earn a living other than in the rapid exhaustion of gold fields. Originally named Gibsonville, after one of the tract owners, it was later called Comptonville. However, to avoid confusion with the Comptonville located in Yuba County, the name was shortened to Compton. Compton’s earliest settlers were faced with terrible hardships as they farmed the land in bleak weather to get by with just the barest subsistence. The weather continued to be harsh, rainy and cold, and fuel was difficult to find. To gather firewood it was necessary to travel to mountains close to Pasadena. The round trip took almost a week. Many in the Compton party wanted to relocate to a friendlier climate and settle down. But there were only two general stores within traveling distance, one in the pueblo of Los Angeles, the other in Wilmington, so they eventually made the decision to stay put.
By 1887, the settlers realized it was time to make improvements to the local government. A series of town meetings were held to discuss incorporation of their little town. Griffith D. Compton donated his land to incorporate and create the city of Compton in 1889, but he did stipulate that a certain acreage be zoned solely for agriculture and named Richland Farms  In January 1888, they forwarded a petition supporting the incorporation of Compton to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who in turn forwarded the petition to the State Legislature. On May 11, 1888 the city of Compton was incorporated, it had a total population of 500 people. The first City Council meeting was held on May 14, 1888.
The ample residential lots of Richland Farms gave residents enough space to raise a family, and food to feed them, along with building a barn, and caring for livestock. The farms attracted the black families who had begun migrating from the rural South in the 1950s, there they found their 'home away from home' in this small community. Compton couldn't support large-scale agricultural business, but it did give the residents the opportunity to work the land for their families and for the welfare of the new community.
The 1920s saw the opening of the Compton Airport. Compton Junior College was founded and city officials moved to a new City Hall on Alameda Street. On March 10, 1933, a devastating earthquake caused many casualties, schools were destroyed and there was major damage to the central business district. While it would eventually be home to a large number of African Americans, in 1930 there was only one black resident. In the late 1940s, middle class African-Americans began moving into the area, mostly on the west side. Compton grew quickly in the 1950s. One reason for this was Compton was close to Watts, where there was an established community of African Americans. The eastern side of the city was predominately white until the 1970s. Despite being located in the middle of a major metropolitan area, thanks to the legacy of Griffith D. Compton, there still remains one small pocket of agriculture from its earliest years.
During the 1950s and 1960s, after the Supreme Court declared all racially exclusive housing covenants (title deeds) unconstitutional in the case Shelley v. Kraemer, the first African American families moved to the area. Compton's growing African American population was still largely ignored and neglected by the city's elected officials. Centennial High School was finally built to accommodate a burgeoning student population. At one time, the City Council even discussed dismantling the Compton Police Department in favor of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in an attempt to exclude blacks from law enforcement jobs. This slowly began to change when, in 1958, the first African-American ran for a City Council seat. However, it would be another three years before an African-American would actually be elected to the City Council in 1961.
Douglas Dollarhide made history in Compton in 1969 when he became California's first African-American mayor of a metropolitan city. Two African-Americans and one Mexican-American were also elected to the local school board. Four years later, in 1973, Doris A. Davis defeated Dollarhide's bid for re-election to become the first African-American female mayor of a metropolitan city in the United States. By the early 1970s, the city had one of the largest concentrations of African-Americans in the country with over ninety percent.
For many years, Compton was a much sought after neighborhood for the black middle class of Los Angeles. Now, only some areas of Compton are still middle class communities. This past affluence is reflected in the area's appearance — Compton's streets are lined with relatively spacious and attractive single family homes. However, several factors have contributed to Compton's decline. One of the most significant factors was a steady erosion of its tax base. First, whites who fled to the newly incorporated cities of Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Paramount and Norwalk in the late 1950s. These nearby communities remained largely white early on despite integration. This move was even further precipitated after the Watts Riots in 1965 and 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Soon, middle class blacks also found other areas more attractive to them. Some were unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County such as Ladera Heights, View Park and Windsor Hills; and others were cities such as Inglewood and, particularly, Carson. The latter was significant because it had successfully thwarted attempts at annexation by neighboring Compton. The city of Carson opted instead for incorporation in 1968, which is notable because its black population was actually more affluent than its white population. As a newer city, it also offered more favorable tax rates and lower crime.
Some episodes of the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air took place in Compton because Will Smith's friend, Jazz, lived there. Many Famous/Popular Gangsta rap artists' careers started in Compton (N.W.A., The Game, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, scHoolboy Q etc.) In their lyrics, they rap about the streets and their lives in Compton and the towns nearby such as Paramount, California. Many well-known NBA players attended high school in the city as well. DeMar DeRozan attended Compton High School, and Tayshaun Prince, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Jennings attended Dominguez High.
Although Compton was formerly thought of as a primarily black community, this has greatly changed over the years and now Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the city. A possible reason for this misconception is, despite the shift in population, many African American professional athletes and rappers are originally from Compton. Also, African Americans continue to dominate local politics, holding most elected positions in the city. Although an inner suburb of Los Angeles, Compton has seen an increase of middle-class residents in the last few years, due to its affordable housing despite the portrayals of Compton in the media; which are typically exaggerated. With the influx of immigrants and the demographic shift in ethnic population, it was after the 2000 U.S. Census Latinos were recognized as the majority.
Compton has a growing Pacific Islander, Filipino, and Vietnamese community. West Compton and unincorporated Willowbrook have more middle class African Americans than the central city (west of Alameda St.) and unincorporated East Compton, the latter of which has a higher number of Hispanics and working-class African Americans. Lower-income subsections on Compton Boulevard have many businesses owned by Latinos.
Compton has been referenced on numerous occasions in gang affiliation, gangsta rap and g-funk songs, especially in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, and so has attained an association not only with gang violence and crime, but with hip hop music as well. The city is known as the home of many famous rappers. (see list List of people from Compton, California#Arts and entertainment) Compton has evolved into a younger community, the median age of people living in Compton, was 25 at the time of the last full census survey; the United States average at the time was 35.3.
Compton is home to the Compton Cricket Club, the only all American-born exhibition cricket team. Its founder, Ted Hayes, said, "The aim of playing cricket is to teach people how to respect themselves and respect authority so they stop killing each other."
Government and infrastructure 
City government 
Elected Officials: See info box.
- City Manager, Charles Evans, The City Manager is responsible for the administration of city services and programs, enforcement of the city's Municipal Code and ordinances, and preparation of the annual budget.
After Lionel Cade, an accountant, assumed the mayor's office in 1977, one of the first orders of business was to conduct an audit of the city's finances. It was discovered that the city was $2 million in debt. The administration was able to eliminate the huge deficit in one year by making cuts in every department. It also aggressively sought federal funding to help pay for essential services, which was at least partially effective. However, with the passage of the property tax cutting initiative Proposition 13 by California voters, Compton was one of the cities hardest hit, since it had already eliminated most of the fat from its budget.
County, state and federal representation 
In the state legislature Compton is located in the 35th Senate District, represented by Democrat Roderick Wright, and in the 64thAssembly District, represented by Democrat Isadore Hall, III. Federally, Compton is located in California's 44th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +29 and is represented by Democrat Janice Hahn.
The United States Postal Service operates the Compton Post Office at 701 South Santa Fe Avenue the Hub City Post Office at 101 South Willowbrook Avenue, and the Fashion Square Post Office at 2100 North Long Beach Boulevard.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department operates the Compton Station in Compton. When the LASD replaced the Compton Police Department in 2000, they increased patrol service hours from 127,410 to 141,692. Compton Station is centrally located in the Los Angeles area. The station is easily accessible from the (105) Century freeway to the north, the (91) Riverside/Artesia freeway to the south, the (110) Harbor freeway to the west, and the (710) Long Beach freeway to the east. Diane Walker, a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, was promoted to the rank of Captain by Sheriff Lee Baca, and is now Commander of Compton Station. There is also a LASD substation located in the Gateway Towne Center.
City government controversies 
Civic corruption has also been a widespread problem in Compton. In the early 1990s, United States Attorney Joey Chin conducted a series of investigations, centered on a phony waste-to-energy scheme, that ultimately ensnared a number of prominent elected officials.
In 2000, the Compton Police Department was disbanded amidst controversy and charges of corruption. The police department claims it was disbanded after investigations of gang activity led to then-Compton Mayor Omar Bradley. Once this became public, the mayor charged it was the police who were themselves corrupt, and he disbanded the police department. Omar Bradley has since faced serious corruption charges. Regardless of the situation, an alternative form of law enforcement was sought. Compton's policing needs are currently served by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Eric J. Perrodin, the city's current mayor, was investigated in 2007 by the California State Bar for threatening to violate a local newspaper's first amendment rights after the paper printed an investigative report relative to a contract granted to one of Perrodin's associates. Following the report, Perrodin threatened to yank the city's advertising contract with the paper A Times review of city records shows Perrodin was absent from city board and commission meetings nearly two-thirds of the time between July 2009 and July 2010.
Current recall efforts are a direct response from residents of the accusations of corruption of the city's mayor and council. Some of the accusations involve the issuing of city contracts to personal donors and friends. One particular accusation involved the trash and recycling contract of the city to Pacific Coast Waste and Recycling LLC in 2007, whose leadership donated large amounts of money to Perrodin's political coffers.
Notices of intent to circulate recall petitions against four Compton city officials are expected to be filed in August 2010, by a group of citizens who claim corruption in Compton is being ignored by the same authorities who were shocked by the recent salary controversy in the city of Bell.
Compton has discharged its city manager for the second time in three years. The Los Angeles Times says the City Council voted in a closed meeting, September 9, 2010, to fire Charles Evans. The Times says council members refused to discuss the reasons for their decision. Evans took office in 2007, after the dismissal of previous City Manager Barbara Kilroy. City Controller Willie Norfleet will take over until a permanent manager can be named.
Compton's violent reputation was popularized in the late 1980s by the rise to prominence of local gangsta rap groups Compton's Most Wanted and especially N.W.A, who released the famous album Straight Outta Compton in 1988. The city used to be notorious for gang violence, primarily caused by the Bloods and Crips. Crime rates had been falling for years following the crack epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s.
Crime, though present in lesser degrees beforehand, worsened significantly with the introduction of crack cocaine in the latter part of the 20th century. The neighborhood lost wealthy residents, with the worsening safety problems, and, after the 1992 riots in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, many African Americans left the city. Meanwhile, many Latino and other immigrant families moved into Compton, including Samoans, Tongans, Koreans, Filipinos, Belizeans and East Africans.
During 2006, Compton deployed twice as many sheriff's deputies and the murder rate has steadily decreased in the last decade. Recent reports show that Compton's violent crime rate has been reduced by 30% over the last ten years, and is continuing to be reduced.
Although the U.S. News & World Report does not even list Compton in the "The 11 Most Dangerous Cities" for overall crime rates in the United States, it contrasts the CQ Press, using data from the FBI's annual report of crime statistics "Crime in the United States 2010," ranked Compton as the 8th most dangerous city in the country.
In 2010, Compton Station area homicides declined by about 38 percent, with 26 homicides in 2010, in comparison to the 42 homicides in 2009. This number is a 53 percent decrease from five years ago, and was the lowest number of homicides since 1972. The sheriff’s department reported: Taking into consideration the population changes, last year showed the lowest homicide rate since 1965. Property crimes also decreased. These figures demonstrate a 67.2 percent decrease over the five-year period from 2005 to 2010.
"Gifts for Guns" 
From 1999 to 2004 Compton's murder rate averaged at around 49 murders per 100,000 annually. In 2005 the city experienced an almost 45% increase in murders per hundred thousand citizens.  The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department began the annual "Gifts for Guns" program within that same year where the citizens of Compton were given the option to turn in fire arms and receive a $50–$100 check for various goods  in an effort to combat gun violence. People have turned in about 7,000 guns over the last few years, KABC-TV reported. The program's success has prompted the LASD to expand the program county-wide.