Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Give Kids Better Options or 'Gangs Will Give Them Something To Do,' Local Leaders Say
TLBBHMAP3-U010ALB5ANM-348f959abae2-512-300x300-1
By Jim Jakobs, Digital Producer
Published 3 years ago on
October 30, 2020

Share

The kids spoke and the Fresno City Council reacted, promising to invest nearly $10 million dollars to support youth in the coming year.

A Wednesday night summit involved several dozen young people who spoke directly to leaders at the Fresno Fairgrounds. Councilmembers said the meeting helped peel back layers and break down barriers.

“It was the best community conversation I have been involved with,” said Mark Salazar, Fresno’s deputy chief of police.

Council member Luis Chavez said, “This was probably one of the most productive, really fruitful conversations that that I’ve had the honor of attending.”

Portrait of Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias

“It’s pretty simple. We either give kids something to do, or the gangs will give them something to do.”Fresno City Council President Miguel Arias

Summit Addressing Violence in Fresno

Over a dozen community organizations brought young people to the event for a conversation about the recent spike in violence in the city.

The meeting was held outdoors so everyone could space out. Chavez said reporters and camera crews were escorted out so participants could speak freely. Mayor-elect Jerry Dyer was in attendance as well.

“The conversations I heard were, you know, they’re running away from something,” said Chavez. He said he heard stories about trauma in the home, abusive relationships with parents, and problems with caretakers.

“They want those basic recreational, educational and economic opportunities,” explained Chavez. “A lot of them said, you know, I used to have a job, six, seven months ago, and now I don’t.” He said many participants said the were previously helping their parents or their foster parents but now bills are piling up.

“One of the phrases I heard last night was gang violence is really a language. It’s how oftentimes young people communicate where if you’ve had trauma and you’ve been damaged, you tend to go out and do that out in the streets,” says Chavez. “Right now, it’s sad to say, but a lot of these gang leaders are being really active in recruiting our kids.”

“The conversations I heard were, you know, they’re running away from something.”City Council Member Luiz Chavez

As he looked at the crowd in attendance, he was able to identify several of the groups working to address neighborhood issues, including Street Saints, Fresno United, Barrios Unidos, and ‘Take A Stand Committee.

“I saw a lot of young people that were street smart, street savvy, know the neighborhoods in and out,” reveals Chavez. “They knew what goes on and actually wanted police to help them to get rid of those people that are causing havoc in the neighborhoods.”

Providing Alternatives

“We developed some short term and long term goals,” said Chavez.

Some of the nearly $10 million dollars approved Thursday by the City Council will go to parks, and park maintenance almost immediately, Chavez said.

The pandemic limits what the city can currently provide as far as recreational opportunities, but that’s not stopping them from pushing forward, he said.

Chavez said the BMX bike park at the Mosqueda Center could be opened up soon. “We can do that because there’s really no person to person contact,” he said.

Chavez also said he’s having discussions about restoring a youth employment program. “We can actually employ a lot of these young folks to help out in the community and give back. And for me, that’s a win win situation, whether it’s in the form of them cleaning our parks or helping us beautify some of the alleyways, or our streets,” he said.

Fresno City Budget

Esmeralda Soria

“When we’re facing crises of kids continuing to kill each other, we really have to think long and hard.” Councilmember Esmeralda Soria

When the council approved the city budget Thursday, councilmembers Arias and Esmeralda Soria spoke about the impact the voices of young people had on their vision for the city moving forward.

“It’s pretty simple. We either give kids something to do, or the gangs will give them something to do,” said Arias. “You can’t arrest your way out of this increase in crime. And we have got to stop executing the defund agenda of our youth in our city.”

“When we’re facing crises of kids continuing to kill each other, we really have to think long and hard,” said Soria. “What if those were really your kids or our kids? And these kids are our kids because they live in our neighborhoods and they live in our cities, so we have a responsibility.”

Take A Stand Committee Reaction

“This is now chance to beautify our community, host job training for our youth to be employable, create community jobs for our youth, plan safe social distancing activities…”Kina McFadden, Take A Stand Committee board member

Kina McFadden, who helped organize an anti-violence rally at City Hall last week, said the money can be put to effective use.

“This is now chance to beautify our community, host job training for our youth to be employable, create community jobs for our youth, plan safe social distancing activities like boxing, tennis, performing arts, movies in the park, gardening, farming, fishing, camping, skiing, community engagement, volunteerism, peer to peer mentoring, Girls and Boys Scouts with youth workshops financial literacy, politics 101, etc.,”

Next Steps

Notes taken during Wednesday night’s summit will be used to create an action plan, Chavez said.

“Last night was essentially a framework of how to start the conversation. I said we’re gonna have a lot of uncomfortable conversations, but let’s get uncomfortable together because, you know, this is our city.”

Chavez said there are a small number of gang members behind most of the recent violence and he wants to send them a loud and clear message.

“Yes, the police department is going to address that (gangs) in the suppression aspect,” said Chavez.  “But we’re also going to invest in our young people on the intervention and prevention side and really remove that dynamic and those conditions that make them prime for these gangs.”

DON'T MISS

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

DON'T MISS

Californians Worry About Crime, Setting up a Ballot Measure Showdown

DON'T MISS

The Pickle Flavor Frenzy and Its Rise in Food Trends

DON'T MISS

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

DON'T MISS

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

DON'T MISS

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

DON'T MISS

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

DON'T MISS

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

DON'T MISS

Real Estate Experts Talk Fresno’s Economic Future. Are Tough Times Ahead?

DON'T MISS

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

UP NEXT

The Pickle Flavor Frenzy and Its Rise in Food Trends

UP NEXT

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

UP NEXT

‘This Is How to Improve Reading Proficiency. We Just Have To Execute It’: FUSD Board President

UP NEXT

Get a 3D First Look at Merced’s High-Speed Rail Station Design

UP NEXT

Rare House Vote Sees Ukraine, Israel Aid Advance as Democrats Join Republicans

UP NEXT

Full Jury and 6 Alternates Seated in Trump’s Hush Money Trial

UP NEXT

Wired Wednesday: How High Will the Price of Gold & Silver Go?

UP NEXT

Lamborghini’s Race Evolution: From Tractors to the Track

UP NEXT

Abandoned Pup LB Finds Hope and Healing. He’s Available for Adoption at Mell’s Mutts.

UP NEXT

$11M State Grant Will Help Fresno’s Emergency Shelter Beds, Mental Health Services

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

1 day ago

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

1 day ago

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

1 day ago

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

2 days ago

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

2 days ago

Real Estate Experts Talk Fresno’s Economic Future. Are Tough Times Ahead?

2 days ago

Unlocking the Secrets to Fresno State’s Superb Baseball Season

2 days ago

‘This Is How to Improve Reading Proficiency. We Just Have To Execute It’: FUSD Board President

2 days ago

Does Dyer Support (or Endorse) Bredefeld for Supervisor?

2 days ago

Get a 3D First Look at Merced’s High-Speed Rail Station Design

2 days ago

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

Did you know that SNAP EBT benefits used to be called food stamps and that recipients can use those benefits to get healthy food in places o...

9 hours ago

9 hours ago

Surprising Ways and Places You Can Use SNAP EBT Food Benefits

9 hours ago

Californians Worry About Crime, Setting up a Ballot Measure Showdown

1 day ago

The Pickle Flavor Frenzy and Its Rise in Food Trends

1 day ago

Kate Hudson Had a Lifetime to Make a Record. The Result is ‘Glorious,’ Out in May

1 day ago

Long-Lost First Model of USS Enterprise from ‘Star Trek’ Boldly Goes Home

1 day ago

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

2 days ago

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Hush Money Trial Court

2 days ago

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend