Gun violence in Oakland is on the uptick again. The homicide count in the city stands at 102 and is on track to be the highest in five years, unless something changes in the last two months of the year. (The count for 2011 was 110, up from 95 in 2010, and 104 in 2009.) In response to the disturbing trend, clergy members, community leaders, and the OPD gathered a group of 20 gang members and violent offenders to launch a new campaign of Operation Ceasefire something the city tried in 2009, but did not keep up.
The program is something that's seen success in curbing violence in Boston and Cincinnati, and Oakland leaders and police hope it can soon have an effect there. The idea is to seek cooperation from the most violent or violence-prone individuals and groups to either stop violence and receive community support, or face increased law-enforcement attention to one's gang or clique. Of the 20 individuals invited, all 20 showed up, representing 15 different groups around town.
A member of the U.S. Attorneys' office was there, and family members of gun violence victims told their stories to discourage further violence. Also, a staffer at Highland Hospital spoke about the difficulties faced by victims, some of whom are permanently disabled if they survive.
Brenda Grisham, the mother of a 17-year-old son who was killed outside his home in 2010, expressed sympathy for the gang members, saying they needed outlets, education, and job training. "They’re out there trying to make quick money, nobody wants to work at McDonalds, and most likely they don’t have anything past a high school education."