Ceasefire walkers in East Oakland say it’s their way of doing something about the uptick in gun violence
on September 24, 2022
Cars along International Boulevard honked their support Friday night as about 15 people walked down the sidewalk holding signs that read “Stop the Violence” and “Love One Another.”
The group pleasantly greeted passersby as they strolled block by block through the East Oakland neighborhood. Oakland Ceasefire night walks started 10 years ago, with groups that sometimes number about 100 walking through areas most affected by gun and gang violence. The walks, which returned in September 2020 after a pandemic break, are part of the Ceasefire strategy that Oakland adopted in 2012 after seeing the success the violence reduction strategy had in Boston.
Friday’s walk, organized by Faith in Action East Bay, started and ended at At Thy Word Ministries Church of God in Christ, which is in Oakland’s Police Area 6, where there have been more than 500 reports of gunfire this year, according to Police Department data.
Pastor Billy Dixon Jr., who has been working with Ceasefire Oakland since 2012, said the night walks are important to let the community know that people care for them.
“We let them see people that are concerned about them, other than just their next-door neighbor,” he said. “Sometimes a community that’s involved in this type of violence, sometimes they feel left out. They feel like they’re not part, that no one cares.”
Terry McGlynn, 56, started attending the night walks right before the pandemic, as a way to show she cares.
“It’s a small thing that I can do,” McGlynn said.
Steve Smith, 70, has been attending night walks from the beginning and sees them as a good investment of his time. He believes they are working.
That is backed up by a 2018 study by criminologists at Northeastern University and Rutgers University. Comparing a dozen California cities, the study found that Oakland was one of only three that had reduced gun-related violence. The study linked Oakland’s Ceasefire strategy to a 31% drop in gun-related homicides and a 20% drop in shootings in the previous five years in neighborhoods where Ceasefire was implemented.
City data shows that in 2012, there were 125 homicides and 553 shootings. Five years later, there were 72 homicides and 277 shootings. But the night walks are only one part of Oakland’s Ceasefire strategy, which also consists of working with those who are involved in the violence to stop engaging in it.
“One part can’t just do it alone,” Dixon said. “All the parts have to work together to reduce violence.”
Smith said the night walks are something any resident can do to combat violence.
“It’s much better to be able to do something than to just talk about it or worry about it,” he said.
Here is a list of upcoming walks that residents can join:
- 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 2245 82nd Ave.
- 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, at 1970 86th Ave.
- 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21, 8915 International Blvd.
- 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28, 2245 82nd Ave.
- 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4, 6401 San Pablo Ave.
- 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, 8915 International Blvd.
- 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 1970 86th Ave.
- 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 8915 International Blvd.
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