If the number of questions I have received is any indication, there is a great deal of interest in, and support for, our involvement in Oakland’s Ceasefire violence prevention strategy and particularly for our role in hosting the call-in component of Ceasefire. Many of the questions focus on what actually transpires during a call-in. In an attempt to answer this question in some detail allow me to share the agenda for the March 25, 2015 call in with a short summary of each presentation.
6:10-6:25 p.m. Welcome
Pastor Jim Hopkins (LABC) – “Welcome to this house of prayer and peace, a place where, together, we can seek the peace of our city.”
Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa, OPD – “We cannot arrest our way to a safe city.”
Pastor Billy Dixon, At Thy Word Ministries – “We have had young men die in front of our church, this needs to stop.”
6:25-6:40 p.m. Community Partners
Ben McBride, City Team Ministries – “Young brothers, it will work better for you if you come back into the community.”
Javier Jimenez, Motivational Speaker – “I spent ten years incarcerated. I like my life much better now.”
Will McCoy, Motivational Speaker – “I was arrested for murder as a juvenile. I wish I would have a program like this to help me find a better way.”
Unique Parsha, Victim of Violence – “No mother should have to see her son lying in the hospital fighting for his life like I did.”
Stefania Kaplanes, Highland Hospital – “Not everyone who is shot dies, many are permanently disabled. Can you imagine what it would be like if your only means of communication was blinking?”
6:40-6:55 p.m. Law Enforcement
Captain Ersie Joyner, OPD – “Let me tell you about some guys you might know. They came to meetings like this but they didn’t listen. These are the crimes they have been charged with and the sentences they face.”
John Creighton, Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County – “Let me tell you what will happen if I am asked to prosecute you, particularly if you have used a gun in the commission of the crime with which you are charged.”
Brigid Martin, U.S. Attorney’s Office – “In the federal system you are likely to serve your sentence out of state. In our system there is no such thing as parole.”
Jennifer Brown, Alameda County Probation Department – “We don’t want you to go back to jail but the choice is yours.”
6:55-7:15 p.m. Wrap-Up
Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa, OPD – “The law enforcement personnel here tonight are now going to leave the room. Please talk to the community members who are here to help you.”
Kevin Grant, Oakland Unite Street Outreach – “Let me tell you my story, about my life behind bars. Think about what I am saying now, not after you have been arrested for committing a crime.”
7:15-7:30 p.m. Outreach and Support
Ben McBride, City Team Ministries – “Let me introduce you to some skilled and dedicated service providers.” (Service Providers stand and are introduced.)
Emilio Mena, Oakland Unite Case Manager – “My team and I are here for you. We are available 24/7 to help you connect with training, recovery and jobs.”
Derrick Johnson, Owner of Chicken and Waffles Restaurants – “I employ many people who have come to the call-ins. If you want a job come see me next Tuesday.”
Ben McBride, City Team Ministries – “The people who should have been there for you before may not have been there. Tonight, we are trying to right that wrong.”
7:30 p.m. Dinner
The meal is provided by Anointed Hands Caterers, a ministry of City Team. The meal is a time to talk with the service providers.
The Ceasefire Staff is very appreciative of the hospitality and support of our church. It makes a big difference to them that they are made to feel very welcome. We are working now to schedule two more Call-ins in 2015. The community shows support for Ceasefire by walking every Friday night in an Oakland neighborhood. Members of LABC are invited to participate in these walks. We will begin listing the walk locations in the Sunday bulletin.
—Peace, Jim H.
P.S. I appreciate very much the flexibility and resiliency shown by the Church and Children’s Center in making the necessary accommodations (i.e. parking even farther away) to host Ceasefire. Thanks also to “Deacon” Jim Jeffery who regularly represents the congregation at the Call-ins.