EPA mayor, chief held 'combat violence' town meeting

August 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
In East Palo Alto the police chief and the mayor held a special town hall meeting Thursday night to address the recent spike in violence. They applauded the community for coming together and working with police, but they also faced a lot of criticism.

There have been six murders in East Palo Alto this year and police say three men may be responsible for half of them.

The police chief told the crowd one of those men is in custody and they desperately need help finding the other two. They released pictures of their suspects on Thursday they had previously withheld.

"Right now our focus has to be in capturing Fidel Silva and Jaime Cardenas because we are receiving information that their spree of violence is not over, that we are at risk of future violence," said East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis.

For the first hour the mayor and police chief did all of the talking and when the question and answer period began, the comments were often emotional and angry.

"My husband didn't get killed at 2 o'clock in the morning. He got killed at 4:58 in the daytime when people are at home and people are outside," said Tamara Jackson Davis, the wife of a murder victim.

At times the special town hall meeting became an attack on the two men at the front of the room and how the city is allocating resources to deal with the problem.

One woman said, "Do not play us here because this hurts us this is serious."

The mayor says the city distributed $180,000 this summer to 16 violence prevention programs. One community leader says more needs to be spent on placing at risk youth in jobs.

"It should be a high priority and I'm looking for a city council candidate that is going to put jobs for young people at the top of the platform," said One East Palo Alto Executive Director Faye McNair-Knox, Ph.D.

Despite some heated exchanges, everyone in the room proved just by being there, they were after the same goal -- less violence and more peace.

"All we want is to do is just come together and just give each other the love again and comfort we need and support," said East Palo Alto resident Pamala Strong.

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