The Surge & the Future of Violence Prevention

Posted: March 1, 2022

No Going Back –

Chronicle article picture
YA! Violence Interrupter Antoine Towers addresses rally

As Oakland’s surge in gun violence continues, an informative February article in the San Francisco Chronicle looks at its possible causes, and ways to address it, from multiple perspectives, including law enforcement and community-based prevention programs like ours. Reporters spoke to several Youth ALIVE! staff, including hospital-based Intervention Specialist Andrea Piazza and Executive Director Anne Marks, and the article features a picture of Violence Interrupter Antoine Towers addressing a rally.

At a time when we are seeing a new openness to community-based violence intervention and healing, even from the White House, this nationwide surge in gun violence has inspired a misguided, retrograde backlash that wishes to rely solely on law enforcement and incarceration to address violence. With presumptuous and poorly researched “news” items about cities like Oakland regretting the paths they took toward community prevention and healing, and scrambling to return to a strictly law-enforcement approach to violence prevention, conservative media has mocked innovation while conveniently ignoring the now widely-accepted failures of the War on Drugs and rampant incarceration. Absent from these items is any mention of the progress Oakland had made in decreasing violence in the years prior to the pandemic, or to the hostile, chaotic national leadership of the late Teens.

Pieces like this one in the SF Chronicle, that acknowledge the stress the surge has put on police forces, but which also consider the interruption caused by COVID to community based prevention programs, are a corrective to media chatter that is, at best, misinformed, and at worst, intentionally one-sided.