Dr. King’s dream and march, our nightmare and pain

Dr. King’s dream and march, our nightmare and pain “I feel so broken hearted, I cried so many tears There was so much you gave me, to my heart, to my soul So much of your dreams that were never told There was hope for a brighter day Why were you, my flower, plucked away Oh, oh, I’m missing you Tell me why the road turns I’m missing you” —Diana Ross I miss my son. I miss hugging him. I miss looking in his eyes when he is excited. I miss us discussing his plans for his future. I miss sharing in his everyday experiences. I miss his smile. I miss his joy. All I ever wanted was for him to be in an environment where he can grow. My son was arrested at 19 years of age. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison, more years in prison than he was alive. http://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/mothers-prayer/content?oid=309130 My son was sentenced under California’s 10-20-life law. For two years he continuously rejected a plea and maintained his innocence. After being denied a fair trial and fair legal representation, he felt forced into taking two years for allegedly robbing someone for marijuana and 20 years for allegedly discharging a firearm. Due to the time he received, not the crime itself, he is housed as a level-four prisoner with prisoners […]

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Gang violence drops due to city’s new efforts, officials say

Gang violence took what officials described as a drastic drop since July 2010, attributing the drop to Mayor Kevin Johnson’s gang-prevention programs initiated in June of 2010 and again after last December’s fatal barbershop shooting. Since implementing some of the measures, Lt. Bill Champion of the Sacramento Police Department said that the results have been effective. The number of gang-related firearm assaults has dropped by 60 percent, and the overall rate fell by 39 percent. In addition, there has been a 75 percent drop in homicide rates, and a 100 percent drop in non-fatal shootings. Community leaders gathered at City Hall Monday morning to discuss the mayor’s plan. Speakers, including Johnson and Khaalid Muttaqi, the head of the mayor’s gang-prevention task force, updated citizens on the new plan, explaining the problems they seek to solve, the methodology of their approach, and the results thus far. “We asked the community what needs to happen,” Muttaqi said. “The community is obviously engaged.” Champion spoke about the Sacramento Safe Community Partnership, known more commonly as Ceasefire, a program started by the Police Department to combat gang and gun violence in ways that are different and more effective than in the past. “A traditional law enforcement response … has been to send a lot of officers into an area with gun violence or gang violence, and you have zero […]

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Youth violence forum draws large crowd

In the view of Sacramento community activist Kathy Jenkins, stronger parenting of youth is key to reducing gang violence. At a forum in Oak Park on youth and gang-related violence, Jenkins told a crowd of about 150 Sacramento residents, city staffers and police officers that assertive parents should influence the lives of young people. “This is called parenting, this is not policing,” Jenkins said. “If we could parent, and if we can raise,” she added, “and if we can encourage, and if we can take guns and give books, if we can give dolls instead of pimping … If we could do these things, we could put (the police) out of work. I would rather see them writing parking tickets.” Jenkins was one of many speakers at the forum, organized by Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office. Johnson had planned to attend the Oak Park event, said his special assistant, R.E. Graswich. But he canceled in order to accept an invitation from the White House to spend time on Wednesday with President Barack Obama, according to Johnson’s press office. Police Chief Rick Braziel, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones and Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully were among others who made remarks at the forum. Residents also participated in the forum by brainstorming ways to halt youth violence in the Sacramento area. Braziel explained the police department’s Operation […]

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Editorial: Crime and the City

My, it was a busy weekend around Sacramento. And I'm not talking about the holiday. People were shot, people were killed and people (and homes) were robbed. And there was all the other horrible stuff that happens daily. I took the four-day weekend off from news consumption. Monday morning, I remembered why. Much of it, especially the crime news, is depressing and does nothing to improve my life. Worse, some of it is not even entirely true. But confronting it now gives me the opportunity to ask Sacramento Press readers a question about the future of this website. But first, as they say, the news: The big news that I missed until Monday was that a group of four people – described in The Bee and other media as "a family of four" – were shot at (and two hit) near the Safeway at 19th and S. They were walking to Panda Express. This was, of course, seized upon by Sacbee.com commentors as proof that "downtown" Sacramento is unsafe. Having taken place a mere two blocks from The Bee building, and since the central city remains our civic focus, this was the big news. But it wasn't the only news. A man was shot in Folsom during a dope deal gone bad. The victim said the shooter, a customer, was from Elk Grove. Meanwhile, a […]

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Ask Officer Michelle – When is it Gang Colors?

Posted by Mark.D.Carlos My oldest son started middle school this year (Cal Middle School). Today, an "incident" happened which, before I speak with the school administration, might warrant a police perspective. My son wore white tennis shoes with white laces, white socks, red shorts, and a red T-shirt with white lettering saying "Home Run" and a decal of a baseball. Early in the school morning, he was stopped by a security guard (assigned that role by the school) who apparently made reference to the fact that he was wearing gang colors/clothes, and that he could easily have a gun pointed at him. At the end of the school day, before leaving the campus, my son called me to tell what had occurred. I asked him to go the front office, and ask for the school’s dress code policy. The woman at the front counter said "that is absolutely not acceptable", pointing to what his outfit, and then said there is no written dress code. So my issue is pretty simple, seemingly with the school: develop and distribute a dress code to allow parents and kids to avoid any kind of similar occurrence. But what I really want to now is what the Sac PD believes are the current trends in gang colors which should be avoided at all times by kids (at school or anywhere) […]

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Second Saturday: A Tragedy Waiting to Happen Can Anything Be Done To Save It?

A rock band steps onto a portable stage set up in the old Sacramento News and Review parking lot at 20th and J streets. They tune up and begin to play. This promotion marked beginning of the end of the traditional Second Saturday. Second Saturday was no longer going to be an art walk and about visiting art galleries. Second Saturday was going to be about bringing large numbers of young people to Midtown to stay after the event and continue partying and drinking in the Midtown bars and nightclubs. City officials and the Midtown Business Association (MBA) immediately tried to distance the Midtown Second Saturday Art Walk event and themselves from the unfortunate and preventable death of Victor Hugo Perez Zavala and shooting of three others. Why unfortunate and preventable? There had been plenty of warnings from Midtown residents and others that the art walk (Second Saturday A) and, more to the point, the after-event – the unofficial party in the streets of Midtown (Second Saturday B) – was rapidly reaching the point that a major incident was becoming a foregone conclusion. This peaked after August’s Second Saturday (both A and B). The outcry become so loud that it was finally reported by The Sacramento Bee and The Sacramento News and Review. Both promptly poo-poo’d it along with city officials and the MBA. So […]

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Opinion: Let’s drop the ugly equivalence

Let’s get a couple of things straight: The shooting at 18th and J this weekend wasn’t caused by Second Saturday. And it isn’t going to take Second Saturday down. The shooting was an act of violence by someone who ended up in Sacramento’s central city with a grudge and a gun. Sure, they may have been drawn here by the street party atmosphere that has grown around what began as an art walk. But they might have been here on a Tuesday night as well. Did they come to drink? Possibly. Did having a drink or two cause them to shoot at each other? That’s a leap. Alcohol does not make someone a murderer. It may, however, cause one to hurl. And the ongoing irritation of some Midtown residents with drunken young adults has led the opportunistic to link what is essentially a nuisance with…murder. This linkage is specious, and it is callous. The chorus of "I told you so’s” from some neighbors of the area has been particularly disturbing. As a former resident of Midtown, and a current resident of the more-challenged Alkali Flat neighborhood downtown, I sympathize with those who have had to wash vomit off their sidewalks, had their fence posts or potted plants broken, or even had to shovel excrement out of their flower beds. I’ve done it myself. No fun. […]

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City seeks answers, suspect after Second Saturday killing

Sacramento Police said Monday that gang violence led to a fatal shooting within a crowd gathered outside a Midtown bar after a Second Saturday Art Walk. Police presence was stepped up Saturday, and for the first time, officers enforced the 10 p.m. curfew for minors, which coincides with the art event’s official closing time. But the killing early Sunday has pressed city and business leaders to find additional ways to address growing concerns rather than end the popular event. On Saturday, 20 Sacramento police officers and at least eight undercover officers from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control worked to combat underage drinking and public partying or "tailgating," said Sacramento Police Captain Dana Matthes. The shooting took place at about 12:13 a.m. Sunday on the sidewalk outside Streets of London Pub, 1804 J St. Officers were inside the bar and at both ends of the block when the shooting occurred. Words were exchanged between about 10 people from two gangs before gunfire broke out. The victim, Victor Hugo Perez Zavala, 24, was not a gang member. But one of the three others who were shot — two men and a woman — is in a gang, police said. "This was in fact a gang confrontation," said Matthes, who asked for tips to help police find the suspect. He is described as an African American male […]

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“From the Crack House to the White House”

  “10 years ago I was high on crack cocaine, now I’m high on life.”, these are the words from Sacramento native, Bishop Ron Allen, a former crack cocaine addict for seven years, and now one of the must prominent leaders in the country on the war on drugs.   Allen united with law enforcement agencies from all over the world, who assembled themselves in the nation’s capitol last week to share data and strategies to help fight the escalating war on drugs in this country.  The event was hosted by HIDTA (The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program) an organization under the executive order of the White House.   Allen was there with the I.F.B.C. (International Faith Based Coalition), an organization in which he is the founder and director of.  The coalition focuses on drug prevention within the faith based community. The organization’s ideology is that people are more likely to receive an anti-drug message from their place of worship, rather than a message brought to them sporadically elsewhere by strangers.  Allen, along with other members of his coalition were honored with the HIDTA Award for superior performance.   For more information on the I.F.B.C movement, call 916-807-1210.   (This story was originally written in April of  2010)   By Ray Johnson/Npaphoto.com    

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Let’s Talk About the Root of Bloods and Crips

It was my intention to continuing interviewing families affected by youth violence. I have not abandoned speaking to families. I feel it’s important to go beyond the surface and take a good hard look at the history of gangs, specifically Bloods and Crips. It is important we go beyond simply saying "it’s gang-related" or simply blaming parents. It is necessary for us to look at any and all contributing factors if we desire effective solutions. Before I begin I want to make it clear not all black youth are involved in gang culture. In Sacramento gang culture has masqueraded, for some, as black youth culture. In 2005 I read several editorials in the SacBee titled, "Hmong gangs need to be addressed, Hmong gang situation urgent, Hmong gangs need swift broad response." In one article a Hmong spokesperson stated "Hmong gangs came into existence to protect themselves from pre-existing African American and Hispanic gangs." The article never mentioned why African American or Latino gangs came into existence. In fact I wondered if African American and Latino gangs were pre-existing why were we only addressing Hmong gangs with swift broad response? Why did Sacramento only see Hmong gang situation urgent? What about the African American and Latino youth dying at an alarming rate? I also wondered if Hmong youth were protecting themselves from African American and Latino gangs why […]

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