In early January, I received this report from Reygan E. Harmon, Ceasefire Program Director for the City of Oakland. Because the work of Ceasefire is so important, and because the report is encouraging, I wanted to share it with you.
I want to thank each and every one of you for helping us end 2017 with significant reductions in shootings and homicides. Specifically, in 2017 we set goals for a minimum of 307 direct communications (this is a combination of call-ins and custom notifications), no more than 72 homicides and 300 injury shootings. This year, through all of your hard work, we achieved most of our goals with 74 homicides, 277shootings and 319 direct communications. This is the lowest number of homicides since 1999! Although, we have a very long way to go with eliminating violence in Oakland, it is because of your hard work that lives were saved. As Dr. Cummings would say, we have been moving rocks every day since September 14, 2012 to move the mountain of gun violence in Oakland. When we started this work in East Oakland five years ago, we had no money, no staff, and just a vision for a safer Oakland with a proven strategy. We didn’t know whether this would work, but we believed that Oaklanders deserved something better. And so it was with this hope, strategy, and a lot of faith and focus that every one of you worked to get young men, at the very highest risk of violence, to change their minds and make better decisions about engaging in violence. Often, these were difficult steps to take. Whether it be pressure not to be in this type of partnership, or the many changes in OPD, City government, lack of support, or the many worthwhile distractions, you all stayed focused. From conversations in living rooms, street corners, jails, or at Lakeshore, to focused police actions, each and every one of you played a role in a young man making a different decision—a decision to live and be free. This decision has articulated into 327 fewer young men, since 2012, being shot/killed in Oakland. I know you all do this work because you care, but I want you to know that your efforts to take that care and concern and translate it into strategic action has saved lives of young people in our community. This work matters and you matter.
You all are the unsung heroes of Oakland and a model and an inspiration for what real partnerships that transform communities can look like.
—Reygan E. Harmon
Ceasefire Program Director
Oakland Police Department
Below is a letter to the editor published on January 11, 2018 in the East Bay Times:
Thank you to David Muhammad for an honest reflection on Oakland Ceasefire (Opinion: “Success! Ceasefire Program Reduces Gun Violence,” Jan.9). Having been an Oakland resident and pastor for almost 30 years, I have been part of several efforts to reduce the gun violence that wracks havoc in our community. Ceasefire has been the one effort that involves more than public prayer and political posturing. When there are 75 homicide victims, as there were last year, any celebration of success needs to be restrained, but the significant reduction in the number of homicides needs to be honored and the city’s commitment to the effort needs to be redoubled.
I tell the congregation at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church that we have done much good in our 158-year history, but that our participation in Ceasefire might be the most important of them because of the lives that are saved and the community that is restored.
—Jim Hopkins, Pastor
Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland
Co-chair, Oakland Community Organizations Board of Directors