Ceasefire/Lifelines seeks volunteers
on September 19, 2011
Richmond residents began stepping forward Thursday night at the Nevin Community Center as part of a new initiative to prevent gun violence.
One of them was the Rev. Eugene Jackson of Grace Bible Fellowship of Antioch, who said in his more than 15 years as a pastor, he has conducted funeral services for 15-20 young men killed by gunfire. During these services, he said, the most striking part is “the segment of the meeting … that allows people to say how they’ve been impacted by gun violence.”
“That is a very difficult time but yet it is enlightening time because you are not aware when you first come into a service that the woman on your right or the man on your left, either their son was killed, or nephew, grandson, father, mother,” Jackson said. “It has, I’d say, reached epidemic proportions, where people who have been affected by gun violence are prevalent.”
This, Jackson said, is why he decided to attend one of several preliminary meetings of the Ceasefire/Lifelines program, along with 25 other members of the community.
Ceasefire is a community-run program with a support role played by the Richmond Police Department, said LaVern Vaughn, who works with Ceasefire as well as Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization and its Project Safe Return.
“This is a community-driven effort,” Vaughn said. “It takes every single member of the our community to get involved and care about it.”
Ceasefire is a four-pronged program, relying on night walks, rapid responses, small group meetings and call-ins, the latter of which serves as an intervention for young people at risk.
“The purpose of the call-in is to speak with… the persons in our community who are most likely to be the perpetrators or the victims of gun violence,” Vaughn said. “It’s about us loving them and helping them stay away from violence, but it’s also about letting them know that the crime they’re committing in our communities will not be tolerated.”
Vaughn said call-ins are designed to allow members of the community to speak with those likely to commit violence and ascertain what these men and women need — such as help filling out job applications or obtaining driver’s licenses — but more importantly, to let them know they are part of the community as well.
Adam Kruggel, executive director of CCISCO, said Ceasefire is working in collaboration with Operation Richmond to organize night walks.
“Part of what we want to put forward is love is at the center of this approach, love and redemption, and that we’re serious about accountability,” Kruggel said.
The rapid response portion of Ceasefire is to activate a network of contacts in communities within 24 hours of shootings there, including establishing a presence on the street, Kruggel said.
Organizers stressed that Ceasefire is a community-led initiative, and that RPD will act in terms of logistical support, but won’t be steering the organization. Capt. Anthony Williams said that in the time he’s been police officer, he’s seen the need for a change of approach in curbing violence.
“I understand after 24 years of starting as a parole officer and wanting to go out there and arrest bad guys and protect the community and put them in jail, and seeing them come back out and see new generations of bad guys happen, that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Williams said. “It’s not going to happen. We have to try something different, and this is something different.”
For information on upcoming Ceasefire meetings or how to get involved, contact Jackson at 510-593-8994 or email Kruggel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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