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City Leaders Unveil "No Shots Fired" Campaign To Curb Gang Violence

 March 5, 2021 at 10:31 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 More reports of gunshots, more gun violence and more homicides police say that's what San Diego experienced last year gun violence in the city was up 28% with gang members suspected in 20% of all murders. In response, San Diego leaders have launched a new program to get communities involved in the effort to stop the violence. The program called no shots fired is designed to work with gangs, reach fire agreements and help individual gang members find new directions for their lives. The no shots fired effort will be a collaboration between city police, community and faith-based leaders. And joining me now is one of those leaders, Bishop Cornelius, Bowzer, founding pastor of charity, Epistolic church, Bishop Bowzer. Welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 00:49 Thank you for having me. It's good to be here. Speaker 1: 00:52 Well, you know, San Diego police chief in his light says his officers are facing more people, possessing firearms every day. What do you think are the reasons for that? Speaker 2: 01:03 Well, uh, one of the reasons I know for sure, because I talked with cheapness light and also talk with the, uh, chief molten out in alcohol. And I got the same response for both of them. The problem now is these ghost guns. That's one of the big problem for every illegal gun that they're finding on the streets. They finding these manufactured ghost guns. So they most definitely need to regulate those guns because it's overwhelmingly in the streets right now, goats and the regular guns. So yeah, that's the problem. And so when people have all these guns, they have a sense of using them, you know, when they get angry, if they don't have self-control Speaker 1: 01:38 And how is the increase in gang violence affecting the communities that you serve? Speaker 2: 01:42 Well, you know, people want something done, right? You know, of course there's a debate in our community about, uh, whether it's gang violence or other type of violence. But, um, I say it's both, right. You know, when you look at the Sandaire report of 2019, and especially specific looking at, uh, the black community, uh, 44% of the homicides were arguments and 44% of the homicides were gang related. And so you have a little bit of both going on. And I think we have to be honest about the, both of them, the only way we're going to solve a problem, we have to acknowledge that there is a problem. If we don't acknowledge that we have a gang problem, then the problem is going to continue to, to persist. So, you know, the community wants something done and they're willing to come together and make it happen. And so, you know, we, we, you know, we got people working various lanes and hoping that we don't come together to make this happen. Speaker 1: 02:28 One of the tasks of the new, no shots fired program is to reach cease-fire agreements with gangs. How do you go about accomplishing that? Speaker 2: 02:37 Well, one of the ways is, is the way that, um, uh, what we have planned for the no shots fired, uh, uh, program, right? You know, because individuals that were coming to the program are folks that may have been arrested. It may be on probation or somewhere in the system and his connection with them having something to do with a gun. And so if they want to be a part of the program, one of the things that we want to do is make them, have convinced them to have a commitment. If we work with you, you have to have a commitment, right? That you're going to put your guns down and that we're going to work together to help you change your life. And we also would do street outreach and reach out to those in the community, right? Because you have to have the carrot and the stick, the stick is, is had. Speaker 2: 03:13 Look, if you continue to go this way, you know, the police gonna crack down on you and you're going to end up in jail or end up in the grave. You know, we have to admit and acknowledge the fact that when we say we have a problem with over-policing, there's a reason why they're there. And so we have to address that reason, or we're going to continue to have over policing. And so the carrot is, Hey, come over here. We'll help you. We'll incentivize, you know, some of the support that you need and help you set up a map plan for your life and work with you and support you every day with everything that you need. Speaker 1: 03:41 No, as I see it, a big part of this program is an attempt toward economic justice, providing a range of services, including financial assistance and scholarships as incentives away from violence. How badly do you think that kind of assistance is needed? Speaker 2: 03:59 Here's the thing, w w when we talk about that, right, you know, the main objective is to get individuals to change their behaviors, right? And so I know many times, you know, the focus is on the incentives or the focus on, Hey, we're serving marginalized and underserved communities and they need this support. But the thing of it is, you know, I'm a former gang member and I had my own apartment, my own cars living with my girlfriend, had a job making good money. You still gang bang. So if you don't change the mindset, it's going to continue to go on. But I think like when you want people to change their mindset, they could be in drugs or whatever they're doing. And we want them to leave that lifestyle so that we can support them so they can change their life. Then we have to have some type of support base for them to help them change their lives. By offering these incentives to say, Hey, we will support you. As long as you demonstrate that you're moving towards your goals and changing your life. Speaker 1: 04:47 Bishop you've been quoted as saying that programs like this offer a lifeline to young people. Do you think the kids and young people you want to help will grab that lifeline? Speaker 2: 04:57 Well, you know, I believe some will. And some won't, you know, because it's all about if they're ready, I left the gang at the age of 22 and a half years old. It was 21. When I finally made my mind up to do it. There's others that make a decision in their teens, 14, 15, 16 years old, and some later 30, 40. So it just depends on them and what's going on in their life and being able to get the message and reach them. Because, you know, you do want to throw them a lifeline. Sometimes people take it, sometimes they don't. But, um, you know, I, I believe if you talk to a hundred people and reach out to a hundred people, you might, you'll at least be able to get at least 10 to 20 of those folks. And so what we want to do is go to the hardest to serve. Speaker 2: 05:33 And those that are involved in Nevada, that small percentage, right. That is involved in the violence. Yes. Some are going to turn it away. Some are not going to want any help because they want to continue to do what they do. And I faced that now, but then there's many that do want help, right? Because one of the things I would like to say is that, you know, another piece that we do besides the peace walks or piecemeals or different things like that, we also get out to the hospitals when individuals get shot, uh, through gang gang related violence. And one thing that I found is that when you do get to the hospital and talk with these individuals, their mindset is different and they do want to change. And they thinking about their life and he could have lost their life. So if you can catch people in the midst of that trauma, in the midst of that crisis and help them maneuver through that, you can, you really have a great, greater chance of helping them change their lives. And they'll make an, a real decision to move away from the violence Speaker 3: 06:23 Bishop Cornelius, Belzer. Thank you so much for spending the time and speaking with us. Thank you. Thank you for having [inaudible].

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A new initiative between city, police, community and faith-based leaders urges peace and non-violence following a year of increased gang violence.
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