Sacramento, Calif.- by Robert J Hansen
A group of around 100 people, concerned citizens, elected officials, and community activists spoke about gun violence in Sacramento directly before marching from K and 7th Street to the west side steps of the Capitol building yesterday.
The march is in response to and exactly one week after six people were killed and twelve injured after a gun fight broke out downtown Sacramento last Sunday morning.
“Enough is enough,” Berry Accius, Voice of the Youth founder and march organizer said, together with the crowd. “Let’s hold each other accountable. If you’re with prevention then you’re in the right place but if you’re for distraction then you can go over there.”
The rise in gun violence is because Sacramento did not invest in places like community youth programs and job creation according to Accius.
“Unfortunately things don’t always happen the way they’re supposed to,” Accius said. “The investment is seeing people for being people. We still have not reached those who are committed to saying ‘we must end gun violence in our community.’”
Accius told the crowd that investment into communities needs to be emotional as well as economic.
“When we talk about this violence is everywhere, the reality that many of us face is now becoming yours,” Accius said.
Sacramentan Tasi Wilson came to the march to support the city.
“We need to invest in our youth because I believe prevention is easier than intervention,” Wilson said.
Councilmember Katie Valenzuela said Sacramento is blessed with people who know what to do and for two years had zero youth homicides.
“We know what to do because we’ve done it. We know what it looks like to hire the mentors, to hire the interveners, and to invest in youth programming,” Valenzuela said. “We know what that takes.”
Valenzuela thinks the action is “long past due” and said she will vote down every city budget until “we get it right.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said the City needs to go beyond the traditional public safety measures.
“The City’s priorities that must be at the top are investments in communities and young people in real ways. Not just in gang prevention but investing in our forgotten commercial quarters, investing in more affordable housing and mental health,” Steinberg said.
The Mayor said when it comes to guns and gun violence, around the country there is a sense of hopelessness on whether or not anything can be changed to solve America’s gun problem.
“The massacres continue and continue and of course, last Sunday morning, we saw the results of unending gun violence,” Steinberg said. “The hope is young people.”
Steinberg vowed that the City will continue to move in the right direction and not move on as what often happens in society with mass shootings.
“I'm here to tell you as the mayor of this city it will not be business as usual,” Steingberg said.
Alana Mathews, candidate for Sacramento County District Attorney, told the crowd that everyone deserves to be safe in their community.
“We’re not just going to talk about how we need prevention and intervention,” Mathews said “That means we need victims services, we need reentry services and mental health services.”
Mathews said money needs to go to organizations that are getting results.
“We have to have leaders who are going to get behind this and walk the walk and not just talk the talk,” Mathews said.
After all the speakers, the group marched to the Capitol steps chanting “Stop the violence, stop the harm. We are Sacramento strong.”