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Tyler is one of several leaders who have agreed to work with the Bakersfield Police Department in a two-year effort to reduce gang violence and repair the relationship between police and Bakersfield's black community. In this file photo,BPD Capt. Joe Mullins examines statistics on local gang-related shootings in his office at the Bakersfield Police Department. The veteran police officer has headed up a two-year effort to reduce gang violence and improve police-community relationships in a troubled neighborhood in central and east Bakersfield.

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Now I'm afraid to sit in it," says Latoya Rufus, who cares for her 2-year-old daughter and year-old niece. The year-old mom desperately hopes gang violence can be eliminated in her central Bakersfield neighborhood near Lowell Park. Sometimes even churches in this east Bakersfield neighborhood are affected by crime and an underlying sense of unease.

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This different sort of graffiti in an alley not far from Martin Luther King Boulevard in east Bakersfield warns people not to steal. Is it another of an underlying feeling of insecurity when a neighborhood's residents post "Beware of Dog" s at their homes? One was even spotted on someone's front door. Ruby Thomas is 63, too damn old to be dropping to the ground like a soldier in a firefight, too old to crawl in a blind panic across the ground, trying to stay lower than the bullets punching holes in metal and plaster — and, yes, people.

But Thomas had no choice the night of Aug. Of the gang-related and likely gang-related shootings in Bakersfield last year, 45 occurred in a 2- square-mile area bound by California Avenue to the north, Brundage Lane to the south, Washington Street to the east and Chester Avenue to the west. The year-old father and grandfather moved out of the neighborhood years ago, but comes back regularly to help care for a rental home on Ninth Street owned by a family member.

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This section of the neighborhood, west of Pershing, is attractive and well kept, and is the pride of many who have lived here for decades. And rightfully so. But in January, less than a block away, witnesses told police two men in a vehicle fired several shots, striking a house and a car containing two kids, 8 and Fortunately, the children were not hit. Three months later, on April 12, three men were wounded just down the block when a gunman in a green vehicle opened fire on T Street.

And 11 days later a year-old man was shot dead near Eighth and T. While residents of more affluent neighborhoods may not think twice about taking a leisurely walk after sunset, or playing with a grandchild in their front yard, people who live on Fourth Street or South Robinson, or Texas Street or Potomac Avenue, may be more likely to plan an indoor activity. Not without an adult. But as a black man, Redd feels calling the police, even as the reporting party, can a double-edged sword. Elements of the grant include police officers and neighborhood residents training together in such concepts as procedural justice and implicit bias.

Implicit, or unconscious, bias is the bias in judgment or behavior that from subtle attitudes and stereotypes that often operate at a level below conscious awareness. One goal of the grant is to establish expectations within the community of its own participation and involvement in law enforcement.

But goal No. It will focus on helping community organizations provide peer mentoring, parenting skills, and mental health training in an area suffering from low opportunity, poverty and what Bakersfield Police Lt. Still, Mullins is hopeful the funding will open new opportunities to heal the rift that he acknowledges exists between police and many in Attractive blk man for Bakersfield woman black community. And if the two-year effort can measurably reduce gang violence, it will have all been worthwhile. Known as one of the epicenters of gang activity, the corner seemed a fitting place to talk about the partnership formed between Cross and other churches to support an unconventional but proven strategy to curb the cycle of violence.

Cross Church, Compassion Christian Center on Fourth Street and Saints Memorial Church have formed a collaboration known as Body of Christ, which has been active in supporting a community effort known as violence interruption.

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Based on a strategy employed by the alternative policing program Operation CeaseFire, violence interrupters are former gang members trained to go into trouble spots to defuse conflict before violence erupts. They may be able to talk someone down from plans for a revenge shooting. They may ask a gang banger to hand over his gun until emotions cool. But Tyler, who is originally from the southside of Chicago, insists that the underlying conditions of poverty and need must also be addressed before true and lasting change can take place.

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Tyler hopes the grant funding and partnership building can improve the relationship between the community and police. And he believes gang violence can be reduced. But much more work needs to be done for a community that is urgently in need. The 2 square-mile neighborhood — the grant refers to it as the Area of Concern, or AoC — suffers the highest rate of gun violence in the city.

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It was April, one of the nicest months in Bakersfield, and the weather seemed ideal for a pair of 2-year-olds to be 2-year-olds. According to an anecdote included in the grant application, the gunshots that rang out moments later missed their intended targets. But could she forgive herself? The shooter, a member of the Varrio Bakers gang, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to a story in The Californian. He showed no reaction in court as he was sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

She left Bakersfield after the shooting and lived in a car for a while before she was able to put her life back together. But she will never be the same. City parks are meant to be peaceful places, quiet, tree-shaded islands of green carved out of urban landscapes. On May 5, in broad daylight, year-old Damien Wafford was shot to death in the park, which is situated directly across the street from Emerson Middle School.

Emerson and nearby McKinley Elementary both were placed on lockdown, adding stress and potentially disrupting the educational process for hundreds of students. The group of mostly African-American men were escorted through a locked door and down a flight of stairs to the basement.

They drew some curious looks from uniformed officers of the Bakersfield Police Department as they turned a corner and were led into a large room with a multi-media screen at the front. Several uniformed officers stood nearby, ready to assist in the discussion. Mullins said to his guests. On the agenda was an incident that occurred the weekend at Rising Star Church in southwest Bakersfield, where a repast was held following the funeral of a young man killed in what Mullins said was a DUI crash.

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The family expected gang members to be at the funeral, Mullins said, and requested a police presence. When officers arrived, one of them began using a cellphone to shoot video of the large crowd gathered outside. He was immediately taken to the ground and officers attempted to handcuff him. It was clearly a volatile situation. And all of it was shown on two video clips Mullins played for his guests.

Although officers were pushed, which is considered an act of battery, no guns were drawn, no skirmish line was formed, no batons were pulled and no additional arrests were made. As discussion continued, David Williams challenged the group, and the larger community, to do more to stem the flow of violence in affected neighborhoods.

What responsibility do we have? We all need to do this.

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But many in the community remain reluctant to act as witnesses, to provide crucial information to investigators. But the silence goes beyond fear of retaliation. Despite the progress being made, despite the encouragement, Mullins is not about to predict any major victories. On the contrary.

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When the shooting stopped, Ruby Thomas lifted herself up off the ground. She heard the sound of screaming. Three people had been hit in the hail of gunfire, although miraculously, none of the wounds was life-threatening. Or maybe realistic. More Coronavirus coverage. Subscribe. Thank you for reading! Up. Log In. Log In Purchase a Subscription. Purchase a Subscription.

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We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content. Edit Close. Toggle. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram. Home News News. Close 1 of 8. One man got out of the cab.

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Two more jumped from the bed of the pickup. The grant funding is a good start, he said. Like a house afire, the neighborhood is in an extended state of emergency. Three suspected gang members were charged in connection with the killing. The crowd immediately began yelling and surrounded the small group of officers, closing in. Recommended for you. Concert for the Causes video preview. May 29, Granger Smith preview. May 18, Mar 31, Coronavirus Cases.

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Growing up in this farm belt town in the s, Charles Tomlin had no patience for the Bible verses his mother laid out for him each day or the flagrant racism that she and other blacks of the Dust Bowl generation abided with a certain turn of the cheek.


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