Fresno, CA

Gangs, Seniors, and Fresno

Mark-John Clifford

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photo courtesy of California Restaurant Association

I moved to Fresno in 2006 from the East Coast. Back then, I was 50-years-old and didn't consider myself a senior citizen just yet.

When I moved here, I was excited and looking forward to a new future in my life. I heard about the gangs in Fresno and surrounding areas, but I didn't see a need to worry as long as you stayed away from their locations.

Being from New York and Boston, I used to gangs and gang neighborhoods and the activities. It wasn't new or something I felt I needed to worry about when I moved here. At least not at 50.

Things have radically changed in Fresno in the past 15 years. I'm 66 now, and I have seen the gang activity and ruthlessness grow each year.

The police are making a great effort at stemming the rise of gangs in the area, but it isn't easy with budget cuts and more kids growing older and wanting to be in a gang.

Gang violence is up in Fresno; there is no doubt. The Federal authorities are working along with the local police to work on that, but as I said, more kids are getting into gangs. "It's cool," according to a few that have been interviewed.

It means for seniors like me, which I am now a part of that community, being unable to take peaceful walks, ride a bike, or walk the dog in the evenings when it's cooler.

Those early evenings or even later in the evening walks are either interrupted by gunfire or drive-by shootings. There hasn't been a night in the past five years where we haven't heard gunfire by our home.

Drive-by shootings are not only a nightly event but lately a daily event. It doesn't seem to matter to the gangs when they commit a drive-by. If there's a person on the street and it's the right moment, another drive-by happens.

It's not always a senior either. It could be a rival gang member or an innocent child caught in the crossfire.

It happens too darn much in Fresno.

I'm sure this isn't the only city with a rise in gang violence, but in this case, the increase in Fresno affects me, our family, and our friends.

That doesn't mean it isn't safe to go walking, jogging, or walk the dog in Fresno. It just means you need to be careful when you do go out.

It means a senior citizen is just as much a target as gang members or a young child who gets caught in the crossfire.

So what and how do you handle living with all of this gang violence in Fresno?

For the family and me, we tend to stay in more than we want. The evening walks are less, and as far as bike rides, we ride in the yard when we can.

It's an inconvenience, but it's life right now. We don't exactly live in a gang-related area, but just a few miles down the road, the shootings happen nightly, and we hear the gunshots throughout the evening.

A perfect example, about a month ago, there was a shooting across the street from our home at a vacant house.

The police came to our house to ask if we had heard or seen anything? I told them we heard the gunshots but never saw the vehicle or person.

The police officer then stated that the bullets went through four walls before stopping, so it had to be a very powerful weapon.

They asked you to be on the lookout and careful and call them if we heard gunshots in the future.

What ironic is there are gunshot detectors on the poles all around our neighborhood and throughout Fresno. All of that is great if the police can respond in a timely fashion?

Living in New York, gunshots were a nightly event also. I can remember numerous evenings when I heard gunshots outside my window, but it never bothered me as much as it does now being a senior.

I don't know what it is about being a senior that makes this entire gang thing more concerning, but fr whatever reason, it does.

Things may change over time, and I look forward to that. I'm sure others aren't as concerned, and I give them credit. As for my family and me, I think we'll stay on the cautious side for now and see what the future brings.

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Patti, my wife, and I write about life here in Fresno, California, and the Central Valley. We especially enjoy writing reviews about restaurants we've dined at, along with the food that is served. From time to time, we also write about and share recipes that we are fond of and hope you'll try them and let us know your thoughts. We are not traditional food critics. We don't have to worry about restaurants making unique dishes for us. We're just the average customer going in to dine, and then we write reviews.

Fresno, CA
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