Southwest Fresno community holds meeting after rash of violence

'It's been almost like a free for all and our community is tired'
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno's southwest community and law enforcement marched hand in hand to Hinton Park on Friday night, calling for an end to rising violence.

They chanted the names of loved ones killed in violent crimes.

Almost 500 shootings have happened in Fresno so far in 2020. The statistic is about 200 more shootings than at this time last year, dozens of which were deadly.

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"It's been almost like a free for all and our community is tired," said Pastor DJ Criner of St. Rest Baptist Church.
"Our community is nervous. But our community is bold."

One of those murders was Cornelius "Juice" Reed. He was killed at Westside Market earlier this month. The 44-year-old victim was Ronald Jones' friend.

"I couldn't believe that. they can't do that to him," said Jones. "I am coming to see what's going on with our community. This is my community too."

Pastor DJ Criner says the resolution will require a partnership between people and police. He's calling on the community to speak up.

"Keep their eyes open, keep their ears open and keep their mouth running as well," said Pastor Criner.

Despite the unrest happening around the country, Pastor Criner says law enforcement is needed on Fresno streets more than ever.

"Enforcing safety and making sure that individuals feel comfortable and feel safe, not feel terrified or scared in their own homes or if they are stopped by law enforcement," he said. "The national narrative going around doesn't have to be reflected in our community unless we allow it to be."

Captain Joey Alvarez attributes the spike in crime in part to early releases from jail because of COVID-19.

"When a felon is caught with a gun and he's out within an hour, yes that is going to have an impact on our streets," said Captain Alvarez.

Friday night, community leaders asked Captain Alvarez for his commitment to protect without intimidation.

"We serve the community. We only have the authority that the community gives us," said Alvarez. "We are not here to oppress but to protect."
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