Respond with Hope –
From a speech given last month in Sacramento in which Youth ALIVE! Policy & Advocacy Director Gabriel Garcia spoke about our work. We felt Gabe’s message was an important one, a hopeful one, beautifully expressed. So we wanted to share his words with you. Watch a video of the speech here.
Good morning everybody,
My name is Gabriel Garcia and I am the Policy and Advocacy Director for Youth ALIVE!
We are a community based organization in Oakland focused on violence prevention, intervention, and healing.
I’m here because I believe we can create public safety by treating violence like a public health crisis.
That instead of incarcerating people, we can heal them.
Instead of over-policing neighborhoods, we can invest in community building.
Instead of relying only on law enforcement, we can empower community members to keep each other safe.
I believe this because I get to hear about the life-saving work my coworkers do on a daily basis.
Like our Violence Interrupters who use their credibility with the community to mediate conflicts that would have turned violent.
Our crisis responders who reach out to almost every family that experiences a homicide in Oakland and navigates them through the aftermath of losing a loved one to violence.
Our Intervention Specialists who go to the hospital bedside of patients with gunshot wounds, and provide them with the support and resources they need to begin a healthy recovery.
All of our programs create public safety by treating violence like the public health crisis it is.
Programs like ours could exist in every city that experiences high rates of gun violence if our elected leaders prioritized investing in community based approaches to addressing community violence.
A key strategy to preventing violence, is addressing the fear of violence.
Responding with fear puts everybody at more risk. All those natural feelings that come from fear: wanting to get a gun, joining a gang for protection, or seeking retaliation, all put more people at risk of future violence.
Responding with hope that they can get a job that will take them away from the path they’re on, that they can relocate and get a fresh start, that they can heal and grow from this situation
Let’s not respond with fear, that calls for us to go back to what we know (only investing in law enforcement).
Let’s respond with hope that by empowering community members to keep their communities safe, by healing all those impacted by violence (including the perpetrators of violence) we can all be safer.