First published in the Sept. 18 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
As the woman walked down the street where her 19-year-old daughter had died, people watched.
She was accompanied on Tuesday by roughly 60 other demonstrators: family members, friends and sympathetic Burbank residents who knew or had heard of the three people killed last month in a car crash on Glenoaks Boulevard and Andover Drive. Speeding on Glenoaks — on which the procession marched before turning to city hall — has long been an issue the local community has experienced for years, some said, and something needed to be done to prevent further deaths.
Some carried signs — “We want safer streets,” “Glenoaks is not Indy 500” — while others carried pictures of the three who had died on Aug. 3. That day, police have said, the group’s vehicle was hit by two others that were racing each other, killing three occupants and hospitalizing a fourth, who has since been released. Authorities have charged both alleged racers, including a 19-year-old Burbank resident, with three counts of murder.
The images of Cerain Baker, Jaiden Johnson and Natalee Moghaddam, who were killed in the collision, were clearly visible as the group moved toward city hall, accompanied by Burbank Police Department officers. Moghaddam’s mother carried a poster-sized photo of the teenager, pictured smiling with hair dyed red.
The march was organized by local residents Dory Foster, Lisa Martinez and Yolanda Wu, who formed a community group called Together We Can after the deadly crash to advocate for anti-speeding measures, more education about the dangers of speeding and stricter punishments for people caught street racing. Committees from the group have meet with Burbank Unified School District officials, City Council members and state representatives to talk about potential solutions.
The point of the march was to raise awareness of the issue, Foster said. Addressing demonstrators at the corner of Andover Drive and Glenoaks Boulevard, where a memorial to the three crash victims has remained for more than a month, she told attendees to hold the city accountable until it makes the necessary changes.
“They can’t ignore all of us,” Foster said to supporters. “I’ve heard from so many people that they’ve given up because by themselves they’ve been doing this for years, but now we’re going to make a change and they can’t ignore us.”
Lucy Fraser, a Woodland Hills resident whose husband is a friend of Cerain Baker’s father, Tony Baker, said she came to the march because street racing is also an issue in her community. Walking down Glenoaks Boulevard with her husband and son, she explained that she hopes the city places speed bumps on the street and increases police patrols in areas where speeding is common.
News about speeding problems, Fraser said, “is not new information. … They’re not responding to it.”
Last month, the Burbank City Council asked municipal officials to bring them a variety of agenda items to address speeding. City Manager Justin Hess said this week that staff members would provide a package of potential initiatives by the end of next month or sometime in November.
Just minutes before their meeting was scheduled to begin Tuesday evening, council members Nick Schultz and Konstantine Anthony briefly met with demonstrators outside city hall, thanking them for being there and pledging to address their concerns.
“We hear you. We hear you loud and clear,” Schultz told the crowd. “We’re going to take action.”
Until the city does, Foster told attendees on the steps outside the building, the community needs to keep pushing. Together We Can, she said, plans on meeting with Schultz and Charlene Tabet, vice president of the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education, soon to discuss strategies.
Foster led the demonstrators in a moment of silence honoring Baker, Johnson and Moghaddam, many of them still holding signs and pictures as they bowed their heads. Moghaddam’s mother stood among them, holding an image of herself and her teenage daughter.
She mostly kept to herself and her circle of supporters throughout the event, but while marching down Glenoaks Boulevard had issued a plea to onlookers who were watching from their doorways:
“Don’t forget our kids, my daughter.”