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'No Shots Fired' Campaign Aims To Curb Gang Violence

Cover image for podcast episode

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.

A new initiative between city, police, community and faith-based leaders urges peace and nonviolence following a year of increased gang violence. Plus, an inewsource-KPBS investigation found dozens of hospital facilities that received waivers failed to document that they had tried the state’s alternative options first. And this weekend in the arts: a photography festival, Broadway hits from jazz greats, Lauren Gunderson’s play “I and You” and a city-wide festival of architecture.

Speaker 1: 00:01 A new attempt to stop gun violence in San Diego.

Speaker 2: 00:04 The only way we're going to solve the problem is we have to acknowledge that there's a problem. We don't acknowledge that we have a gang problem. Then the problem is going to continue to persist.

Speaker 1: 00:12 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition. Hospitals, give reasons for increasing nurse workload. During the surge,

Speaker 3: 00:30 We had over 500 patients, but then our hospitals with open that's five times more than what we had earlier in the year.

Speaker 1: 00:37 And our weekend preview covers photography, architecture, and even a sing along. That's a head OD mid day edition,

Speaker 1: 01:00 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 cease 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, apostolic church, Bishop Bowzer. Welcome to the program.

Speaker 2: 01:50 Thank you for having me. It's good to be here.

Speaker 1: 01:53 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: 02:03 Well, one of the reasons I know for sure, because I talked with cheapness light and also talked with the, uh, chief molting 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: 02:38 And how is the increase in gang violence affecting the communities that you serve?

Speaker 2: 02:43 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, uh, specific looking at 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 the 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 persist. So, you know, the community wants something done and they're willing to come together and make it happen. And so, you know, uh, we, we, you know, we got people working various lanes and hoping that we can all come together to make this happen.

Speaker 1: 03:29 One of the tasks, uh, of the new, no shots fired program is to reach cease-fire agreements with gangs. How do you go about accomplishing that?

Speaker 2: 03:38 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 its 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 have, 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: 04:14 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: 04:42 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: 04:59 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 often these incentives centers 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: 05:48 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: 05:58 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: 06:34 And those that are, uh, involved in the violence, 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 their trauma, in the midst of that crisis and help them maneuver through that, you can, you really have a great of chance of helping them change their lives. And they'll make an, a real decision to move away from the violence

Speaker 1: 07:23 Bishop Cornelius, Bowzer. Thank you so much for spending the time and speaking with us.

Speaker 2: 07:28 Thank you. Thank you for having me,

Speaker 1: 07:44 California saw COVID-19 hospitalizations skyrocket around the holidays, and when staffing couldn't keep up, the state led hospitals put more patients on a nurse's workload than the law usually allows. But KPBS I news source investigation found many hospitals that receive permission, submitted incomplete applications. And the second of a two part series KPBS health reporter Teran mento here's from hospitals that say they desperately needed the relief. It was around Halloween and the outlook was frightening at Scripps health, senior vice president of human resources. Eric Cole sent projections showed a surge of COVID-19 patients would arrive by the end of the year.

Speaker 2: 08:24 The number of patients we had today would grow five fold, um, over the next six to eight,

Speaker 1: 08:30 That meant its workforce needed to grow to a state law designed to support employee and patient safety mandates a certain ratio of nurses to patients, but Scripps struggled to find enough staff to meet required levels. They tried hiring

Speaker 2: 08:47 A slum.

Speaker 1: 08:49 They looked for travel nurses

Speaker 2: 08:52 Since this was a nationwide pandemic, and those resources were across the entire United States.

Speaker 1: 08:57 Core staff became sick as COVID 19 spread making the situation even worse

Speaker 3: 09:03 Night. If the ICU creeps up five, six, um, uh, seven patients, I can't produce an RN overnight to fill the gap that I have to, to maintain those staffing ratios,

Speaker 1: 09:16 Hospitals across the state face similar challenges during the pandemic and the governor made it easier to stray from the staffing rules. Hospitals could receive a temporary waiver to expand a nurse's workload by one to two patients for scripts facilities are among 200 California hospitals that received one. Since COVID-19 hit many applied during the winter surge,

Speaker 3: 09:38 We had over 500 patients within our hospitals with COVID that's five times more than what we had earlier in the year.

Speaker 1: 09:44 Health department declined an interview, but said in an email waiver should be a last resort. The waiver application says hospitals should exhaust alternatives before seeking one, but the state sent in his email that facilities actually don't need to. And a KPBS I, new source analysis of publicly posted waivers found dozens did not document. They tried all listed alternatives before seeking the waiver.

Speaker 3: 10:09 There are simply not enough nurses, not just in the state of California, not just in the United States, but not in the world.

Speaker 1: 10:16 Carmela Coyle leads the California hospital association. She says staffing shortages occurred all over the country, but California has set nurse to patient ratios. And without a waiver, hospitals would have been forced to let patients weigh in emergency rooms or ambulances.

Speaker 3: 10:33 If nurse staffing ratios are preventing us from caring for more patients in the intensive care unit, um, that's not, uh, an answer that we can accept

Speaker 1: 10:44 Central regional medical center CEO, eight off Edward raised concerns. Some facilities took advantage of the waiver process.

Speaker 4: 10:52 I was fortunate to have received the waiver and I'm saddened that hospitals would ask for them without really using them. I don't think that that's appropriate either because it wastes the time of CDPH and giving approvals for things that we shouldn't be asking for.

Speaker 1: 11:06 Edward says the Imperial County hospital applied after state provided resources still were not enough. Their form noted. They try and all alternatives listed. That includes setting up clinics for non-emergency cases, rescheduling elective procedures in transferring patients

Speaker 4: 11:23 With the staff that we had. If we have not asked for a waiver, um, we would really be in trouble.

Speaker 1: 11:29 Two scripts facilities did not note. They tried all alternatives prior to their first application, but Cole says they did later for an extension. He says they tried to stay within ratios at all costs, but proactively requested a waiver ahead of the spike its projections showed was

Speaker 3: 11:47 I think it'd be poor planning and it will be harmful to our staff and our patients to not take advantage of a tool that's available, um, and use it sparingly when it's absolutely

Speaker 1: 11:59 The governor just last month canceled the expedited waivers because hospitalizations have declined. The California nurses association cited the move as a victory, but at least 84 hospitals were still granted extensions until the state provided them with more staff script says they received three nurses and their time should end later this month, but that could depend on patient volumes, Taryn, mento, KPBS news. This story was co reported by I new source investigative reporter, Jill Castillano. I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS.

Speaker 3: 12:37 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 12:44 This is KPBS midday edition. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This weekend in the arts. We have a festival of photography, a new play for Moxie theater, a cross border exhibition of art about the domestic realm and architecture festival, and even a Broadway sing along. It's a packed weekend, but joining me to walk us through it is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans, and welcome Julia. Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me now, first up is the medium festival of photography, which you say is great for avid photographers and the rest of us alike. Can you tell us about how we can attend?

Speaker 5: 13:22 Yeah. So this is a San Diego based organization, medium photo, and it's their annual festival and portfolio review. They have a pack lineup of panels, workshops, and keynotes for anyone interested in elevating their work or learning from some masters. And most of the things you can buy individual passes for too, if you can't attend the full thing. And they're also offering student rates too, but they have some local photography exhibitions for the rest of us. There's a Northern exposure exhibition at coffee and tea collective in North park, which features five outstanding photographers working in Mexican border States. And while you're at coffee and tea, you can pick up a pack of special roasted coffee beans with packaging designed by cross-border artists Pancha. And another great option for viewing is the portfolio presentations. This year, they're looping the works of about 60 participating photographers on screens that you can watch from the sidewalk at art produce in North park.

Speaker 5: 14:28 And those will run 24 seven. So you can just walk by and check this stuff out. And the portfolio review is, is really at the heart of the medium festival, and it's a really great chance to discover new work. But if you want to learn more, Saturday evening is the keynote by Southern California photographer, Catherine Opie. Who's pretty iconic in her work as a contemporary photographer and photo. And they're doing limited availability, outdoor simulcasts at the photographers I in Escondido or at art produce in North park. And of course you can also tune in online. That's it, six o'clock on Saturday.

Speaker 1: 15:06 The medium festival of photography is going on now. And it runs through March 13th in the theater world. Tell us about what Moxie theater is up to.

Speaker 5: 15:15 Yeah, they're doing a production of I and U, which is a popular new-ish play by one of the most prolific living playwrights in America, Lauren Gunderson. It's a one setting to actor thing, which I, I always love the intimacy of normally, but it's just the sort of script that works really well for filmed virtual performances. And this is Moxie's second show from there 2020, 20, 21 season. And this one is set in the bedroom of Caroline played by just seeing some villain who has become home bound from school due to illness. Her classmate, Anthony comes over seemingly uninvited to work on a school poetry project together. And the play takes us through Caroline's anger and resentment into all of these themes of human connection. And Gunderson's writing is always whip smart and funny. Here's a clip from when Anthony first comes over,

Speaker 6: 16:11 Why would I help you? And what planet and what universe would I help with a school project when I'm not in fact in school right now, like at all, cause I'm kind of sick. Like everyone knows I'm sick and everyone's freaked out about it. And no one comes here and brings what is that waffle fries and brings a waffle fries and bad posters to my house.

Speaker 5: 16:36 That's a scene from Moxie's I and you, and I'm almost certain that the original script called for the character to bring cookies. I kind of love how in this production they use waffle fries. I'm told they're also cookies at somebody

Speaker 1: 16:52 Moxie theaters Inu opens Friday and runs through March 28th with ticketed virtual performances every Friday and Saturday night at seven 30 and Sunday afternoons at two, there is a multidisciplinary exhibition opening at Sandy Cedars, the front gallery this weekend. Tell us about domestic geographies.

Speaker 5: 17:10 Yeah, there's a lot of moving parts to this program, but let's start with the virtual opening reception this weekend. It's the front's 14th annual DIA de Dayla mohair exhibition celebrating the date of the woman. And this work was stitched together by a Tiwan artist and curator Ingrid Hernandez. And it includes something like 30 women and non-binary artists, mostly from the border region ranging from visual art performance, art and video there's piñata workshops and musical productions and film screenings. They all center on themes of resistance and power in the domestic realm. For example, it features work Claudia Ikano, who is known for these striking performance works, where she dresses as a domestic worker and cleans in public spaces or at gallery openings and stuff like that. There's also work by Laura [inaudible] and Aramis Sophia powder, Hong Kim and Shanta Penalosa and tons more that exhibition will open for in-person viewings by appointment starting Tuesday. So this is a nice way to get a fuller sense of what to expect as well as listened to some of these incredible artists working in the region and beyond that's true.

Speaker 1: 18:24 Mystic geographies opening at the front on Saturday with a virtual reception and artists talk at 6:00 PM. Okay. Now for families, what have you scoped out from the annual open house? San Diego festival of architecture?

Speaker 5: 18:38 Yeah. There's plenty of free stuff. Lots of it. Walking or self guided tours. But one thing that caught my eye is that architectural sketching lessons for kids and adults taking place both Saturday and Sunday morning at 11:00 AM and each one focuses on an iconic building locally. And it's virtual Saturday is the national city aquatic center. And Sunday is the ocean discovery Institute in city Heights. So grab a pencil and channel your inner Frank Lloyd Wright.

Speaker 1: 19:08 Okay. Open house. San Diego runs today through March 12th and it's free to the public. And finally, a little Sunday afternoon music from San Diego is Leonard Patton. How can we change?

Speaker 5: 19:19 Yeah. So this kicks off Bodhi tree concerts. New season it'll be a Broadway cabaret style performance with the silken voice Leonard Patton. And he has a backing band. That's like a who's who? Of San Diego's finest jazz musicians. Rob Thorson on bass ed Kornheiser on piano and Julianne. Centum on drums. They're promising to do some sing along where the tunes, but thankfully it's spiritual. So you don't have to, but I'll leave you with this Leonard Patton song. Your love makes me blue it's from his latest full length album, a beautiful day.

Speaker 7: 19:52 Try to my mind just bags blue while you stay on mama, you mama makes me blue.

Speaker 1: 20:14 The patent will perform virtually with Bodhi tree concerts on Sunday at 4:00 PM for more arts events or to sign up for the weekly KPBS arts newsletter, go to kpbs.org/arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dixon, Evans, Julia as always. Thank you.

Speaker 5: 20:33 Thanks Marie. Have a great weekend.

Speaker 7: 20:40 Wow. Dry. Every tear that falls is safe for that book. It say Oh, every day. Yeah. Tried to. When you, my mom and my mind state. Oh, you [inaudible] feeling low as love as me. [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] I was next to you. I gave you that. It's safe to say for every day I try to put you out a little, a blue zone zone feeling low. [inaudible] me.

Speaker 8: 25:14 [inaudible]

Speaker 7: 25:20 [inaudible].

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.