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State leaders converge in San Francisco
for anti-gang summit

Senator Dianne Feinstein, co-sponsor of the Gang Prevention and Effective Deterrence Act, was keynote speaker at today's Anti-Gang Summit
held in Presidio National Park, San Francisco.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

By Brent Begin, Bay City News Service

October 23, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The spread of criminal street gangs is the number one domestic security issue in America, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said today at a gang summit in the San Francisco Presidio.

In a room full of peace officers, community groups, prosecutors and other specialists from around the state, Feinstein called for a comprehensive approach to ending the violence, which relies on hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government.

"Gang violence is an attack not only on individuals, but also on our communities," she said. "It stops mothers from allowing their children to play outside. It prevents the elderly from taking walks in their neighborhoods. It creates an environment of fear."

Several Bay Area leaders attended the all-day event including the mayors of San Francisco, Salinas and Richmond as did representatives from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan said he organized the summit to create a more coordinated approach to stop the violent and destructive crimes perpetrated by gangs in urban areas and rural towns.

"I believe an integrated approach is needed to combat this program at all levels," he said

U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan

The summit comes in a week where gang violence is already a hot topic. San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera is currently in the process of filing an injunction against the notorious street gang Oakdale Mob. Also, in San Francisco Superior Court, admitted street gang member David Hill is on trial for the murder of police officer Isaac Espinoza.

Feinstein mentioned Espinoza as she went through a list of California peace officers recently killed by gang members in apparently deliberate acts of violence.

"The problem is immense," Feinstein said. "It is on the streets. It is in the prisons. It is in big cities and small. It is in California and every other state."

Feinstein used the platform as keynote speaker to mention her efforts to pass a federal bill targeting gangs specifically. It would earmark $870 million for prevention, investigation and prosecution of gang activity.

The bill would also work to strengthen penalties for gang participation.

The summit concluded with a diverse panel of speakers including Dr. David Kennedy, Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacquo, Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Dr. David Kennedy

Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi

Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson

Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom

The panel talked about the different challenges facing rural areas compared to big cities.

Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero said one of her biggest challenges is dealing with gangs on an organized crime level, which oftentimes includes collaboration with criminals in nearby Salinas Valley State Prison.

Richmond Mayor Irma Anderson, however, said she hoped a public health approach would increase the peace while San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said getting weapons off the streets should be a major priority.

All the speakers today seemed to agree that a Bay Area regional approach is a key in slowing the spread of gangs.

"There's a great need for mayors to facilitate collaboration," said Anderson, who added that everyone needs to take responsibility and "own the problem."

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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