Tuesday night I joined 200 community members to mourn the gun violence that took place less than a mile from Lakeshore last Saturday. The shooting that killed one and injured seven marked the 60th homicide in Oakland so far this year. We gathered to mourn the most recent tragedy, the collective weight of ongoing tragedies, and the increasing feeling of lack of safety in our city. Several community members spoke of the ways the recent rise in gun violence is deeply connected to years worth of divestment in our community; in order to move forward we need to invest not just in responding to violence but actually preventing violence.
Yesterday Oakland City Council passed a budget that will shift $18 million dollars (2% of the proposed policing budget) to violence prevention programs, mental health responders and social services. It refocuses city resources to enable police to prioritize the most effective strategies to solve violent and serious crime, as well as invests in both short and long term community safety measures. Last week I represented Lakeshore in support of this budget at a City Council meeting. I was one of over 100 constituents, many of whom were faith leaders, speaking to the importance of making these changes. I discussed the importance of funding programs like Ceasefire, which has a proven track record of reducing gun violence. I argued that it is essential that Oakland invest in these types of violence prevention programs in order to develop deeper community ties and create a safer Oakland.
At the Vigil last Tuesday, I made the following commitments to the community, on behalf of Lakeshore:
We commit to investing in our community by:
- Hosting programs like Ceasefire that reach out and provide opportunities to loved ones
- Speaking to our elected officials to demand passage of a moral budget and supporting them when they pass one
- Investing in violence prevention and committing to programs and policies that truly protect and serve the whole community
- Working for the safety of all, for the care and provision of all, and ensuring the resources necessary for every resident of Oakland to thrive
As I shared we with the gathered community, “we are in this together and we will find our way together – a way that invests in one another, supports one another, and creates a community that protects, serves, cares for and cherishes one another. “
The work before us is significant, yet we will only truly move forward as a city together. It is good to be one important link in Oakland’s communal chain.