FRESNO, CA – Many cities throughout California have been struggling with the rampant gang violence that has been a major issue in communities of color. Peace officers, neighbors, and community leaders are affected directly and indirectly by the turbulent violence that dominates their streets.
Fresno’s block parties to celebrate diversity and community and anti-crime campaigns are diligently purported to help diverge the mountains of retaliatory gang violence in specific areas of the city; ironically, the crime rate has dropped by 13.9 percent compared to the 2017 statistics according to a Feb. 18, 2018 Fresno Bee article, which also state that shootings had dropped by 30 percent according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
However the retaliations among southwest Fresno gangs continues to be a sore spot in which the community is seeking earnest solutions to an unrelenting problem.
ONME News was invited by a community member and leader to attend a public event on Wednesday, April 25, at public city of Fresno facility, Maxie Parks Community Center (Formerly, California and Elm Community Center), to hear about methods working in other parts of California where gang-violence is prominent. Voluntary speaker and consultant Devone Boggan from Richmond, CA offered his time to come talk to Fresno residents, city officials, city council district 3 representative, Oliver Baines, members of the Fresno Police Department and community members about his private-public funded program, Advance Peace, which is working to cease the percentage of gang-related violence in Richmond and other parts of California.
Unfortunately, so-called community leader JePahl White of Fresno, CA ostensibly and vulgarly shouted and kicked out our identified media representative, most likely because of his own personal bias concerning Juneteenth events our business entity is involved with; our representative identified himself as media to cover this free public event; such an act is considered a violation of our U.S. Constitutional rights in regards to freedom of press and under California law, possibly provoking a lawsuit under such circumstances:
First Amendment/U.S. Constitution paraphrased:
As a general rule, both the public and the press have a right to record government officials or matters of public interest in a public place: where there is public access in such traditional public forums as a sidewalk or a park one is permitted to record anything in plain sight (i.e. buildings, people) because in such places there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
As journalists, the U.S. Constitution protects our right to speak and grants us our right to access public places to gather information. Our right to access public property is strongest when the area we wish to access has historically been open to the public for the exercise of speech, public debate, and assembly. These areas are known as public forums and include spaces such as sidewalks, parks, and town squares. We may freely enter and gather information while in these public spaces.
ACLU of Southern California & California Digital law: You have the right to record video of police or public officials engaged in the performance of their official duties if those activities are visible from public places.
What’s a public place? Anywhere that any member of the public can legally access. This includes public transit facilities and parks.
Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.
If you attend a public meeting (i.e., a meeting of a governmental body required to be open to the public by law) in California, you may make an audio or video recording unless the state or local body holding the meeting determines that the recording disrupts the proceedings by noise, illumination, or obstruction of view. Cal. Gov't Code § 11124.1(a); Cal Gov't Code §§ 54953.5(a),-.6.
However, ONME News found it more significant to inform its readers and viewers about founder Devone Boggan and his successful program, Advance Peace, although we did not have access to the event.
Through our own research, we were able to give the community uplifting hope and news.
In 2007, Richmond, CA was America’s ninth most dangerous city for anyone to live.
A MotherJones.com article from August 2014 discussed the rampant homicide rate in the Bay Area that law enforcement and anti-crime programs were battling to no avail:
A state senator compared the city to Iraq, and the City Council debated declaring a state of
emergency. In September 2006, a man was shot in the face at a funeral for a teenager who
had been gunned down two weeks earlier, spurring local clergy to urge city hall to try
something new—now. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what
you’ve always gotten,” says Andre Shumake Sr., a 56-year-old Baptist minister whose son was
shot six times while riding his bicycle. “It was time to do something different.”
Advance Peace founder and community consultant Devonne Boggan found a different way to handle the pettiness of the abundant crimes happening in his city: he presented a proposal to Richmond city officials which included identifying the most likely criminal perpetrators and paying them $300-$1,000/month to stay out of trouble, starting with small groups of 50 versus entire neighborhoods and keeping track of their high-risk behavior. The coordinators, former convicts themselves, would then patrol the neighborhoods to monitor these small groups’ behaviors, mentoring them away from dangerous situations that lead to permanent outcomes.
Launching the project Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) in 2007 using the “Richmond Fellowship Model,” which would become the core of Advance Peace, Boggan agreed to commit three years to the endeavor as requested by the city of Richmond and the police department.
With a mixture of mentoring and a stipend to turn their lives around, these small groups of misguided, high-risk culprits would qualify to be in the program based on their dense criminal background and being under the age of 25—within six years, the number of killings per residents dropped by over 66%, as these would-be-perpetrators are instead guided to obtain a driver’s license, a GED or career-tech training.
Since its inception, the mission of Advance Peace is to not only be able to expand its model to other gang-troubled neighborhoods throughout California, but it continues to also “invest in the development, health, and well-being of those at the center of this crisis.”
“Early in my tenure as Neighborhood Safety Director for the city of Richmond California, I learned that very few, if any of those suspected of having committed a firearm offense (60-70% of which had also avoided a criminal justice consequence for their suspected acts of gun violence) were being engaged or served by either a public or community based system of care,” stated Sam Vaughn of the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety. “They were however being given a great deal of investigative attention and focus from a variety of law enforcement capacities. And even still, gun violence persisted!”
Vaugn also stated on the Advance Peace website that the lack of opportunity for the young, troubled men escalates their condition with the option to turn to violence.
“Although I understand how difficult it can be to provide services to individuals who appear to be resistant to change, who are also chronically unresponsive to such ‘opportunities,’ I find it extremely problematic that if these young men want help, they have very few options to receive viable assistance that is responsive and provide healthy impact