Berkeley community turns out for march against violence

Relatives and friends of Anthony Medearis Jr. mourned at the site of his shooting on Thursday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Relatives and friends of Anthony Medearis Jr. mourned on Thursday night at the site of his shooting. Photo: Emilie Raguso

More than 100 people took to the streets last Thursday night in an effort to build community and take a stand against violence in the part of the city that’s seen much of it this year.

Attendees at Ceasefire Walk Against Violence on Oct. 3 in West Berkeley included community organizers, members of congregations from around the city and beyond, and local residents and officials. Several family members and friends of Berkeley’s most recent homicide victim, Anthony Medearis Jr., led part of the procession for much of the night.

Miracle Paul, the aunt of one of Medearis’ sons, said it meant a lot to the family to see so many people turn out for the event. The procession walked a circuit from Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, at Hearst Avenue and Ninth Street, to the site of two of this year’s homicides, at Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue, then up to Camelia and Eighth streets where Medearis was killed in September.

“It’s too much going on in Berkeley, and we’re so small,” Paul said.

Medearis’ best friend, Gerard Jackson, was among the group. “It meant a lot that everyone came out to grieve with us,” he said. Jackson said he also knew Berkeley homicide victim Jermaine Davis, who was killed in July. Jackson wore memorial necklaces with both of his friends’ photographs on Thursday night.

The group, which marched along San Pablo Avenue with signs, drawing honks of support from many passing motorists. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The group, which marched along San Pablo Avenue with signs, drawing honks of support from many passing motorists. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The evening began at 6:30 p.m. at Good Shepherd with explanations about the role Ceasefire Walks have played in Oakland to build community and address violence. Some leaders said the walk would be the start of a recurring event in Berkeley.

Pastor Este Cantor, who runs Good Shepherd, told attendees that “it was the one-two punch of two young men being killed in August and September that finally woke us up. We have to do something.”

(In August, Dustin Bynum was shot outside Bing’s Liquor.)

Councilwoman Linda Maio, who represents parts of West Berkeley, said it was clear to her that the community needed to take steps beyond policing to address violence in Berkeley, from wrap-around services for youth in schools, to community events such as the Ceasefire Walk.

“You can’t put enough police on the street to address violence,” she said. “Retribution, that’s what’s driving the violence. We need to make a change.”

Pastor Este Cantor led a moment of silence at the site of Dustin Bynum's shooting. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Pastor Este Cantor led a moment of silence at the site of Dustin Bynum’s shooting. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Before the walk, several other religious and community leaders spoke about what such events can accomplish.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor said anger in response to the violence “should motivate us for change,” as it has driven peace advocates to action for decades.

Pastor Mike Smith, of the McGee Baptist Church, said he grew up six blocks from Good Shepherd, and had struggled over the years watching the community face difficulties. Smith is also the executive director at BOCA (Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action), one of the organizations that helped plan the walk, and drew many of its participants.

“Why have we never achieved all that we can be?” he asked. “Berkeley says it is important to celebrate our differences. But something all of us can understand is pain.… We are here tonight so that the future can be brighter. You see that we can make a difference.”

Anton Burrell, also of BOCA, said the walks connect community members with people in the neighborhoods, building community both within the pedestrians and beyond. They have been going on in Oakland for some time.

They send the message that “We care for you, we care for our communities, but we want the violence to stop,” said Dedrick Battle, another anti-violence leader who spoke. “It’s just a symbol of what we want to see in Berkeley. Relationship-building is the most important part.”

Related:
‘Ceasefire Walk Against Violence’ comes to West Berkeley (10.01.13)
Witnesses, texts link San Leandro man to Berkeley killing (09.16.13)
Berkeley Police make arrest in August murder (09.11.13)
Relatives remember Berkeley shooting victim ‘Lil Tone’ (09.10.13)
Man dies after shooting in West Berkeley (09.08.13)
Police identify Berkeley shooting victim (08.05.13)
24-year-old man dies after Berkeley shooting (08.01.13)
Berkeley homicide suspect arrested in San Diego (07.26.13)
2 men named in Berkeley murder case; details emerge (06.19.13)
Berkeley police make arrest in Zontee Jones murder (06.08.13)
Workshop urges action on gun violence around Berkeley (05.29.13)
Berkeley community remembers teen slain in Oakland (05.08.13)
Berkeley High asks youth to fight back against violence (03.08.13)
West Berkeley neighbors ask for answers after homicide (02.20.13)
Police name Zontee Jones as year’s first Berkeley homicide (02.06.13)
Man shot dead in Berkeley, first homicide of 2013 (02.04.13)

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  • bgal4

    BOCA requested funding several times from the city and schools for the services of Stuart Wakeling to complete a data analysis of local gun violence. (McBride serves on the board of Wakeling’s consulting firm http://partnershipforsafecommunities.org/ )

    What are the reports?

    On the gang culture issue, it is abundantly clear that certain political players do not want Berkeley to officially create an anti-gang program. They are hoping the churches will save souls.

  • guest

    “You can’t put enough police on the street to address violence,” Councilwoman Linda Maio said.

    Considering that this is coming from a 20+ year incumbent council member who didn’t know that there were gangs operating in her district and who thinks that it’s somehow easier to get guns in Berkeley now than it was 10 years ago I’m not willing to believe this without some evidence.

    Sobering article in the link talking about the ineffectiveness of similar walks in Oakland.

  • Doc

    More police is exactly the most effective deterent to violence.

  • bgal4

    http://www.sacbee.com/2013/07/28/5602432/sacramento-group-backs-away-from.html

    Sobering article (again) about the ineffectiveness of Ceasefire programs, even those funded by California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP) grant. To win the grant Sacramento must have had a plan based on fidelity to the model. BOCA/OCO has never come close to implementing the intended Ceasefire model, they co-opt the term.
    BOCA and OCO, PICO’s Berkeley and Oakland faith coalitions , have received funding repeatedly for various iterations of “Ceasefire” yet fail to deliver results, reports or meaningful program evaluation.

  • Woolsey

    Old folks marching to stop the shootings? Sure, that will work. Hope none of them got mugged.

  • Marvey Hilk

    Comforting prayers and warm thoughts for those affected by violence in our wonderful city.

  • Name

    Deal bgal: Did you mean “Where” are the reports? I too was frustrated not to see them; I only heard that Wakeling had trouble getting useful statistics from the police department.
    I am curious who you think the “certain political players” are who are against an anti-gang program. I too hope that the churches will save souls, …but sometimes that takes a while. In the meanwhile, let’s organize…and save lives! mds

  • bgal4

    Yes. I will edit. Busy day repairing wood windows.

    The excuse of not being able to extract useable data from the new system does not fly. Nor does it make any sense that yet another consultant needed to be paid to pull together actionable analysis.

  • guest

    “Got too busy with real life” is an excuse that others could use too, you know.

    Also, since when is this not “real life”?

  • bgal4

    Editors this comment is nothing more than a personal dig and useless to the conversation, just another one of my haters taking up space.

    Real life is paid professional work, not volunteer work which the local agencies should have accomplished already.