Community takes action against gun violence

May 20, 2012 7:56:13 PM PDT
One of Oakland's toughest neighborhoods, the Fruitvale District, has seen its share of shooting fatalities. This week, a coalition of neighborhood groups is trying to raise money for a gun buyback event.

The fundraiser is planned for Thursday night at the Otaez restaurant on International Boulevard. It's one of many businesses in this area that have been rattled by the ongoing gun violence.

The restaurant co-owner, Jesus Campos, was gunned down a little more than a year ago. Campos was shot to death last April in what police say was a botched robbery attempt.

Judith Ghidinelli heads up a group called the 100 Women Against Violence. She was compelled to take action after watching reports on the murder of 3-year old Carlitos Nava in August of last year.

"We just kind of kept trying to figure out what we could do to end the violence in the neighborhood, and we kept coming back to the guns," she said.

"He was a little boy. I mean it was very heartbreaking. All of us have children, grandchildren, it could have been any one of them," Ghidinelli said.

The plan is to raise money through a fundraiser at the Otaez restaurant and through community donations. That money will then be used to buy gift cards from neighborhood stores and supermarkets.

Organizer Jennifer Argueta, who is part of the group Messengers 4 Change, says those gift cards will then be given away in exchange for guns.

"To the mothers, the wives, the daughters, I really want to focus on that. That we really are pleading to them, to get rid of those guns, to make the change within the home so the change can occur in the streets," Argueta said.

Gun buybacks in Oakland have often seen mixed results, with gun dealers from outside the area sometimes dumping junked fire arms they cannot sell.

Organizers for the event are taking some precautions. Those who want to take part will need to provide some kind of proof that they are Oakland residents.

Organizers are hoping to raise $10,000 for the gun buyback. So far, they have almost raised half of that goal. They're hoping Thursday's fundraiser will give them a boost.

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