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
held in Presidio National Park, San Francisco.
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
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
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
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
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."
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