Weapons of destruction become tools of construction
Guns are recycled into manhole covers, menorahsJuly 19, 1997
Web posted at: 7:49 p.m. EDT (2349 GMT)
From Correspondent Jim Hill
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Like other communities around the United States, Los Angeles tosses tons of illegal guns into an incinerator every year.
But the city is turning the tables on the criminals. Their guns are being made into metal support bars which are being used in the construction of public buildings, including a new police precinct headquarters.
"I can't think of a more appropriate use for something like this," says Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block.
Los Angeles isn't the only city turning weapons of destruction into implements of construction. In Hartford, Connecticut, more than 11,000 confiscated weapons were forged into manhole covers for city streets.
So many weapons had been seized that they provided enough metal for 225 manhole covers, each weighing 170 pounds.
In Santa Monica, California, the arts community has also gotten into the act. A 20-foot-tall statue known as "Peace Angel" was forged from gun metal and now stands on the grounds of a school.
"We are destroying our own people, and we can overcome those tools of destruction and create images of peace -- images that remind us who we are and what we have to offer," says artist Lin Evola. "It's that very irony that makes a statement."
Also in Santa Monica, the Jewish community has found a way to benefit from bullets. Police donate confiscated shell casings, and children use them to make ceremonial menorahs.
"The theme of the situation is to use that which would be for violence, and use it for peace and for life," Rabbi Avrohon Levitansky says.
Of course, crime isn't going to melt away like so much gun metal in a blast furnace. But supporters of these kinds of projects say symbolism can be important in the fight against crime.
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