Community members mobilize against gun violence and “A Celebration of Life,” Sept. 22 at Oakland City Hall.Photos by Auintard Henderson.
Pastor Zachary Carey
“97 percent of the people just saying stop the violence is not going to do anything. Policing (alone) isn’t going to do it. We have to change the culture and take a stand.” – Pastor Zachary Carey
By Post Staff
Marchers met at five locations throughout the city Saturday morning, Sept. 22 and proceeded to Oakland Hall to hear speakers, listen to music and bear witness, reflecting a growing determination in the community to bring an end to the gun violence that is stealing the lives of so many in Oakland.
Spearheading this movement has been Pastor Zachary Carey of True Vine Ministries at 1125 West St. in Oakland, and the organization he began two years ago, Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE).
Among the core of faith organizations that worked on the peace marches and Celebration of Life were St. Paul’s Episcopal, Pastors of Oakland, Baptist Ministers Union, Acts Full Gospel C.O.G.I.C. Allen Temple Baptist and Shiloh.
Last year, 12 churches and community groups participated in the first march and rally. This year, the number has grown to 60.
Last Saturday’s marchers assembled at Cesar Chavez School at 29th Avenue and International Boulevard, Defremery Park at 18th and Adeline streets, First AME Church in West Oakland, Youth Uprising at 8711 MacArthur Blvd. and Uptown at 19th and Broadway.
SAVE also organizes “stand-ins” at the sites of homicides, where people commemorate the victims and call on the community to end the silence, to “say something.”
The idea for SAVE and the marches against violence were born after a member of True Vine, Leon Wilson, was killed two years ago. He had been attending a G.E.D. class at Allen Temple and was shot down when he went outside.
“We got together at bible study and talked about how out of control the violence has become in our city. We started doing stand-ins where someone is killed. We’ve been standing in, even when it’s raining,” said Carey in an interview with the Post.
“If 3 percent of people are participating in this type of (violent) behavior, where are the other 97 percent,” he said. “We need our voices to be heard. All of us are being impacted by this violence.”
Carey emphasized that the roots of gun violence are complex, and the solution must address the real causes.
”It’s not just the fact that there’s a proliferation of hand guns that our kids have access to,” said Carey.
“It’s a whole host of things. We have to get rid of hand guns, mentor our young people, offer jobs and job training because poverty has a lot to do with violence and improve the school system.”
“Just saying stop the violence is not going to do anything. Policing (alone) isn’t going to do. It. We have to change the culture.”
The numbers of killings show that urban communities have become a war zone, he said. “We have a undeclared war, though it’s a war that has not been interpreted in that light.”
Nationally, 295,893 Africans Americans have died in homicides between 1976 and 2006.
“This is not just an Oakland problem,” Carey said. “This is a national crisis that is going on in every urban setting in America.”