I recently attended a prayer vigil for Kayla Foster in the west Fresno neighborhood, where she was murdered at age 18.
Speakers acknowledged the scourge of gang violence, but also noted other ills adversely affecting residents of west Fresno. These include historical poverty, environmental racism, inadequate public transportation, lack of goods and services, and a perception of police as an occupation force.
Some specific concerns: People in west Fresno live an average of 20-plus years less than people in north Fresno. Residents of west Fresno have worked for years to eliminate industrial pollution affecting their health, but little has changed.
West Fresno has an unemployment rate around 16 percent, compared with a countywide rate of 7.4 percent in May 2017.
Fresno Mayor Lee Brand wrote a thoughtful op-ed piece in The Bee, “We can’t surrender to gang violence in Fresno.”
He recognizes the problems caused by poverty and advocates “job training to give gang members alternatives to crime, perhaps even filling some of the new jobs coming to Fresno when Amazon and Ulta open their e-commerce centers.”
Mayor Brand, not “perhaps.” How about a firm commitment to developing 500 jobs for residents of west Fresno? As you have stated, we are all in this together.
Ken Mah, Fresno