Community leaders make passionate plea to end gang violence in Southwest Fresno

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The stand against gang violence is an effort being led by the police department, but it's a cause many different groups are getting behind. (KFSN)

Angry and emotional community members say it's time to end gang violence, and leaders are now demanding a ceasefire in West Fresno after yet another innocent victim is killed.

This call to action stems from the murder of 18-year-old Kayla Foster. She was an innocent bystander killed in a drive-by shooting, and now her family and even those who didn't know her say it's time for the violence to end.

"Kayla Foster, 9-year-old Janessa Ramirez," Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer read to the gathered crowd Friday.

It's a list of children affected by gun violence by no fault of their own.

"Andrew Mitchell, six-years-old playing in his front yard the day after Christmas," Dyer said. "Gunned down by gang members."

An adult Mitchell says he's one of the lucky ones.

"This is just the nice way. You could actually end up dead," he said.

But even with luck on his side, he's still paralyzed from the waist down.

"You want to end up like this? This is not the life," Mitchell told the crowd. "You wanna push a wheelchair every day? Have to stay in the house most of the day because it's too hot that you can pass out and die."

The 20-year-old was shot more than a decade ago, but he was recently reminded of his past when an innocent victim was shot and killed right next door to his house, Kayla Foster.

"That's what woke it up," he said. "That's what woke everything up."

He is one of the dozens of people, community members, and leaders, who are refusing to let Fresno lose its fight against gangs.

"Today we are collectively calling for a gang truce in the City of Fresno," Dyer said.

Part of the plan calls for increasing reward money for tips that lead to the arrest of gang members, but religious leaders say officers shouldn't be in charge of discipline. It should start at home.

"They have to respect the people that they live with," Pastor B.T. Lewis with Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church exclaimed. "You won't have a gun in my house and I not know about it. You're not going to have drugs in my house because that's my house. That's my bed you're sleeping in. That's my lock on the door."

Passionate and fed up, the young and angry, these people say they're ready for change.

"The question we have to ask ourselves is 'How much is enough?'" Dyer said.

They know the conversation doesn't end here, but it starts today. That reward system to get more gang members in jail involves guns, drugs, and human trafficking.

Dyer says if a tip leads to the conviction of a gang member involved in drug sales you can get $1,000, for a gang member with a handgun you can get you $2,000 and a gang member with an assault rifle or involved in human trafficking will get you $3,000

You can stay anonymous.

Related Topics:
newsgang violencefresno police departmentfresnojerry dyerFresno - Southwest
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