Coalition of community leaders address gang violence in San Diego
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Local community and faith leaders gathered Wednesday to discuss the rash of suspected gang shootings in San Diego.
Since Sunday, three men were murdered, five others injured, and residents are calling to end the violence. San Diego has more than 4,000 known gang members.
“The violence is unacceptable, ” said Bishop Cornelius Bowser of Charity Apostolic Church. “I want them to know, you are being given a chance to stop. The community cares about you and values you, but rejects violent behavior.”
Bowsers and both Muslim and Cristian clergy, and organizations like the Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention, stood together addressing what’s been happening on San Diego’s inner city streets, four shootings in 48 hours, crimes the San Diego Police suspect were committed by teenage and young adult gang members.
“From July 4th to Labor Day, is the time where violence really picks up,” Bowser said. “In any city when you look at the data, you will see that. And that is the time when you got to bring families together, offer our youth jobs.”
This coalition of community leaders, that included Hugh Muhammad, local representative of Luis Farrakhan, Pastor Terry Brooks of Bayview Baptist, and Rickey Laster, explained gang activity is the byproduct of poverty. In southeast San Diego, where two of these shootings took place, Bowser said 50 percent of residents live in poverty.
“It’s not because they don’t have a job,” Bowser said, “it’s because they don’t have a livable wage. And so when you have a home that has been crippled that way, and you have that youth there, you have that frustration and anger. That violence is the displacement of anger. Your violence is taken out on those close to you and around you.”
Both Mayor Kevin Falconer and Police Chief David Nisleit released statements Tuesday, saying they are working with the community and faith-based partners to intervene before more violence is committed.
Community leaders suggest programs such as “Summer Nights Lights” from 7 p.m. To 12 a.m., giving young men something to do at night that’s not just fun but constructive, with job recruiters and organizations that offer opportunities.
“The Mayor has done this before,” Muhammad said. “He made some moves that I thought had made it better for community-based organizations and changing the way the city has block grants and allocates funds. And we’re seeing that they made things available.”
For people who want to get involved and help with this issue, Bowser says funding is always key, but they would also like to hear from people who can offer summer jobs to young men, or outreach opportunities.
For more information call (619) 729- 5976. There will be a series of Gun Violence Prevention summits/discussions that focus on the different types of gun violence, sponsored by San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention and our many coalition partners, including CAST, Brady Campaign, and Moms Demand Action. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/159231441425017.