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Faith, Community Leaders Ask Gangs For A ‘Season Of Peace’

Rev. Neal

Photo by Jacob Aere

Above: Rev. Neal "Pepe” Wilkinson speaks in front of a group of community leaders and former gang members at Christ the King Catholic Church in Logan Heights, Nov. 2, 2020.

Faith and community leaders united with former gang members from across San Diego on Monday in a public effort to call for "A Season of Peace."

The campaign asks gangs to agree to stop shootings from Thanksgiving through Jan. 1, 2021.

Listen to this story by Jacob Aere.

Bishop Cornelius Bowser of Charity Apostolic Church said gang and gun violence is disproportionately harming communities of color.

“A Season of Peace is our 'No Shots Fired' campaign to end gang violence, especially as it relates to gun violence," Bowser said. "The entire community is invited to participate in this campaign. A Season of Peace is about encouraging the conversation of non-violence.”

The campaign will include community walks of peace, street-side memorial services, faith sponsored “peace meals” and organized outreach. They also plan ceasefire agreements with gang leaders, and tree planting in honor of those who have died because of community violence.

The Community Assistance Support Team and other local partners will work with San Diego communities and youth impacted by violence.

“The greatest threat to the black and brown community is gun violence,” Bowser said. “More than 92% of gun homicide victims in California killed before the age of 18 in California are Black and Hispanic.”

RELATED: Activists Sue California Attorney General To Block Use Of Gang Database

With the coronavirus disrupting traditional violence intervention efforts, there has been a rise in gang and gun violence in San Diego County.

A SANDAG crime report says there was a 37% increase in homicides reported to law enforcement in the San Diego region from January to June of 2020, compared to the same timeframe last year.

Alberto Vasquez is the Commissioner on Gang Prevention and Intervention, and said he is a real-life example that reform is possible.

“It has become normalized for us to grow up in communities with gangs and violence," Vasquez said. "We are here to lift a message of hope.”

This is the eighth year that the Community Assistance Support Team has brought its service efforts to individuals and families affected by gun violence.

“We need the support of our community to believe that we have our opportunities," Vasquez added. "To believe that we can change generations and generations of poverty and crime and violence.”

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Photo of Jacob Aere

Jacob Aere
Freelance Reporter and Web Producer

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a freelance reporter. In addition to covering the latest news and issues relevant to San Diego, I seek the overlooked voices of our community to tell their stories.

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