On a recent Saturday morning in Oakland, a group of residents marched and chanted, “Stop the violence, stop the silence! Do something!” The group calls themselves SAVE, an acronym for Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere.
“We are soldiers,” said Theresa Butler, SAVE’s coordinator. “We are here in the rain, cold doing what we do.”
SAVE was initiated in 2010 by Pastor Zachary Carey of True Vine Ministries after a member of his church was murdered in Oakland. “One Wednesday night we got together during Bible study and decided it was time for us to take a stand against violence in the community,” he said.
According to Carey, SAVE was inspired by the civil rights movement. “They would go to the lunch counters and sit-in until they were arrested,” he said. “We do stand-ins. We go to the community where someone has been murdered. We go and protest against the violence to let the community know that there is another voice that think this kind of lifestyle is wrong.”
The SAVE group gathers weekly at the site of a recent murder to chant and pray for the victim. They do it every Saturday, 52 times a year, but Carey points out that this is not even close to representing the number of murders that occur in Oakland.
“If you have 131 homicides in one year, there is no way you can do everybody in 52 Saturdays. So we are usually always behind, trying to catch up,” he said.
SAVE still plans to commemorate 11 murders from 2012, and they estimate it will take the group about three months to catch up. In March, they will start protesting regarding the murders that have occurred in 2013.
Chanting among the protesters on a recent weekend was Julia Ford, the grandmother of Aaron Marks, a 19-year-old man who was shot in the 5900 block of San Pablo Avenue last November. “I’m here today to support my grandson,” she said. “I’m going to support him to let everybody know that he did have a family.”
“We will continue save until we have the carnage in America checked,” said Carey. “Until that change comes, we will be in the block every Saturday.”