The Sacramento community is reeling from a series of shootings in various neighborhoods, and area leaders are urging a cease fire in the name of peace. CJ Ellington holds up a sign during a march in Meadowview last week. (Photo by Russell Stiger, Jr.)

Amid a rash of shootings in Sacramento in the last couple of weeks involving youth, the Black community is on pins and needles trying to get a handle on things to curb the violence.

In the last three weeks, the city of Sacramento has been the scene of more than 17 shootings, 30 victims, and nine homicides. Officials at the Sacramento Police Department are attributing the crimes to gang activities.

As of June 24, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department reported that 43 shootings have occurred since late May. Many of the shootings involve juveniles, though none were listed as fatalities.

The latest homicide occurred on June 21 when SPD responded to a shooting near Franklin Boulevard and Fruitridge Road. A man was found dead and the police have yet to discover a motive.

On June 16, Sacramento police located a man who had gunshot wounds at the 3700 block of Cypress Street. After rendering medical assistance at the scene, the man was pronounced dead after members of the Sacramento Fire Department transported him to the hospital. In Oak Park, near the 4000 block of Broadway, SPD officers discovered a woman with a life-threatening gunshot wound but made it to the hospital alive. Investigators do not believe the woman was the intended target.

The state was shut down for three months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were hardly any crimes in the Sacramento region. But now that the people are free to move again publicly, the city has another crisis.

Greg King, the founder of Always Knocking Inc., says that there are also shootings that haven’t been reported. Overall, he said there are too many shootings and the community has to get a grip on them.

“I really can’t say what the uptick is,” King told The OBSERVER. “All of sudden we go from no homicides of juveniles to a rash of shootings that has the entire community on alert. We’re just trying to get a finger on it to see what we can do to calm it down.”

King and other community leaders are calling for a ceasefire of a city widespread problem. Why the shootings are occurring is unbeknownst to many, though the first order of defense is the asking to put the guns down.
Before the COVID-19 virus put the city, state and country on alert, Sacramento had not experienced any youth fatalities for 24 months. The peace was a result of several non-profit organizations and youth-based programs working to assist with the public-health issue.

City officials were warned about an increase in violence and crime this summer. Last month, the Black Child Legacy Campaign and local leaders across multiple sectors spoke collectively to address the needs of local Black and Brown individuals, families and neighborhoods.

“In the last 28 months there has been zero youth homicides in the city of Sacramento. We are asking for, not disinvestment, but reinvestment and a double-down on that investment,” Kindra Montgomery-Block, program director of the Sierra Health Foundation and The Center, said at a news conference last month.

Several community-based organizations are individually addressing the recent spike of shootings before it gets worse. King’s Always Knocking, Queens of Africa United International Foundation USA, Brother 2 Brother, Community Mothers of 95838 (Del Paso Heights), Community Crisis Response Team, and others are concerned and willing to help quell the violence.

Most of the shootings are happening in South Sacramento. North Sacramento is not experiencing the same violence as the south portion of the city. But community leaders are monitoring the situations.

Mervin Brookins, a member and co-founder of Brother 2 Brother, a youth mentorship program based out of Del Paso Heights, has issued an overall request to the “homies” to stand down and suppress the violence.

“We’ve had a couple of shootings out here (in North Sacramento) but not gang-related. It was just an in-house thing of homeboy had an issue with homeboy,” Brookins told The OBSERVER. “We’ve been fortunate to avoid that part of it. But as you know all the gangs are interrelated. That’s one of the main reasons why we’ve been trying to reach out to those individuals that run with cats in Oak Park, Meadowview, or Fruitridge to make sure they keep their heads leveled.”

Brookins also said that there is an anatomy of gangs that people don’t understand and it can lead to continuous violence. He said “a lot of pain” can come from a “small disagreement” to spark a fire. If there is an issue, gunplay enters the equation, and then someone gets shot or killed.
The pain, Brookins said, actually leads to the youngsters letting loose their emotions.

“Now it’s not about whatever the original disagreement was … now it’s about, ‘You killed my homeboy, I’m hurt, and now I have to do something to honor him,’” Brookins explained. “Now you have death on all sides. That is the pain that these youngsters are responding from. They are also hurting from everything going on globally, lack of resources, and not having opportunities.”

Underneath investigations by local law enforcement agencies and media reports, King said members of the community, parents, and youth mentors are pushing for a cease fire.

Yes, there were no youth fatalities over a 24-month period, King said. But it only takes one instance, one disagreement, and one misunderstanding to start a chain of violent events, he said.

“It wasn’t the fact that there were no shootings in 24 months. It was the fact that we didn’t lose any juveniles for 24 months,” King said. “But here it is now, we have juveniles shot in a short time period. Regardless of what neighborhood it happened in or who it is that is getting shot, it affects us all one way of the other. It’s devastating.”

By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer