EPA gathers for much-needed Nat'l Night Out

August 3, 2011 1:08:50 AM PDT
National Night Out events took place all over the Bay Area Tuesday night, including in East Palo Alto. The parties wrapped up around 9 p.m., but it held a special significance this year because of the recent surge in violence.

In East Palo Alto the festive faces celebrating National Night Out often hide the pain of violence.

Monique Grazes says her partner was killed two years ago and no one was ever arrested. She said, "We have these snitching or different stereotypes that won't even bring closure and justice to families that are hurting."

Grazes and her daughter, Lauren Norwood, said the night was a symbolic step in the right direction.

"I think National Night Out is a good way to stop it and for us to come together as a community," said Norwood.

There were five block parities throughout East Palo Alto. People enjoyed mingling with their neighbors and a growing potluck.

"I made 200 deviled eggs, supplied the barbeques," said East Palo resident Al Howlett.

"I'm the spaghetti lady so every year I'm here, I bring in the spaghetti," said East Palo resident Kim Cheadle.

The social gathering is one way to counter the spike in violence. There have been six murders in East Palo Alto this year, including the shooting death of a 3-month-old baby in June. It seemed to galvanize a community fed up with violence.

"When baby Isaac got killed, the tips started flowing into the tip line and haven't stopped," said East Palo Alto Capt. Jeff Liu.

Police Chief Ron Davis has launched a number of community outreach efforts that many say are having an impact.

"We have a wonderful chief of police, he's doing a good job, and the police is doing a good job," said East Palo Alto resident Maurice Berry.

The success of National Night Out in East Palo Alto is just one sign the community is working with police to achieve a more lasting peace.

"Let's come together because this is our problem as a community. It's not one person's problem, it's not that person, it's a community problem," said Flournoy.

Given the last couple of months, the police chief took the unusual step of canceling some officer's days off to put them on patrol.

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