Friday, April 26, 2013

Our Problem to Solve - Reducing Gun Violence in Our Community

Tyler Jamison's photo displayed at a recent B-Tech PTSA meeting
"In California, 355 people have died to gun violence since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. A significant percentage of these fatalities have occurred in the greater Bay Area."  This was the fact shared by the organizers of this past Sunday's community forum "Our Problem to Solve - Reducing Gun Violence in Our Community."   One of these tragic deaths was Tyler Jamison, a former student at B-Tech.

On Sunday, BOCA (Berkeley Organizing Communities for Action)  brought together faith-based and political leaders to talk about what we can do to end gun violence in our community. Speakers included Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom, Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center and PICO Lifelines to Healing Campaign, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, City of Berkeley Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli and Darryl Moore, and Lieutenant Ed Spiller of the Berkeley Police Department.

Following the forum, the organizers sent out the following email with helpful steps that we can take to help stop gun violence in Berkeley and our greater community.

Greetings everyone --

Thank you so much for spending two hours indoors on a beautiful Sunday to think about how we can work together to reduce gun violence.  It really was gratifying to see everyone.

Our committed and passionate speakers presented us with an enormous amount to think about and a range of opportunities for action.  We'd like this email to serve as a brief recap of those options, and an outline of the ways in which we might work together going forward. 

Pastor McBride's framework of Proclamation, Policies, and Programs is a wonderful way to remember the three main ways in which we can act.  Here are some of the ways suggested by our speakers:

1. Help underfunded programs aimed at reducing gun violence, such as the Ceasefire program.
- e.g. show up at Alameda County Supervisor meetings when Oakland's Ceasefire Program is on the agenda

2. Support local programs that help underserved youth, such as Berkeley Youth Alternatives, Berkeley Young Adults Program, and Police Athletic League by tutoring, mentoring, donating money.

3. Hire a young person this summer through Berkeley's summer jobs program - Youthworks

4. Support state legislation to better control gun and ammunition purchases, e.g. write letters, emails, show up at the capitol and lobby members of the state legislature. Here's info on Assemblymember Skinner's AB 48 and Assemblymember Dickinson's AB 169

5. Support federal legislation by reaching out to family members, friends, congregations in states that don't have senators and representatives who strongly support and sponsor gun control legislation.

6. We'll let you know when there's an opportunity to phone-bank on various issues related to gun and ammunition control, and defeating congressmen and women in opposition to sensible gun laws. 

7. We'll keep you posted on a potential gun buyback sponsored by the Berkeley Police department and how you can help support it.

These are opportunities we can respond to as individuals and/or as a group -- as smaller groups, within our own faith communities, as a larger group, as we were Sunday, or aligned with a bigger local group, such as BOCA, Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action.

However we as a group, or each of us individually chooses to respond, the list above can start as a basic starting point for outlining ways in which we can respond to the violence around all of us every day. 

Please let us know if you'd like to continue this conversation and plan for action with us. If you'd like to continue this conversation, and have ideas on next steps, please respond to this email.  We can certainly develop a list-serve/distribution list so that it will be easy for anyone to send an email to the entire group.  Like Roger said Sunday, these are just first steps, we're making this up as we go along, and we'd love to have you join us if you're so inclined. 

Best wishes,
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Pastor Michael McBride
Andrea Altschuler
Roger Gould
Joshua Kirsch

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your support. Despite what the media says Tyler was a great kid with a lot of potential. He leaves to mourn a host of family members that will always love him and will never forget him. We pray everyday for justice and an end to violence once and for all.