Just another Oxnard march for peace and against violence… or?

By George Miller

Greg Runyon was a drug-addled loser who was in and out of prison in Northern California for years, before finding the Lord, becoming an ordained minster and now incredibly running the Gold Coast Fellowship Church in downtown Oxnard. He now ministers to, among others, the most at-risk people: drug addicts, criminals, gang members, the down and out, poor, forgotten and unheard.

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Ambassadors of Peace march winds through la Colonia neighborhood en route to Plaza Park rally. May 9, 2015. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

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Newly-minted Oxnard activist Vera Vega. HopeBoyz in background. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

Vera Vega sat in her house, fearful of gang violence, wondering when City Council, Oxnard Police, anyone, would do something about the plague afflicting her part of town. She finally got up the nerve to come to a city council meeting and speak haltingly about her fearfulness and rage that such violence could be allowed to occur in our city and vowed that she would do something, which we then filed away for future reference.

Salvador Carrillo (at right in photo below) was involved in a criminal street gang at the tender age of 11, pushing drugs with the notorious Colonia Chiques gang, did hard time in prison before somehow finding his way out and now helping others in similar predicaments via “Hopeboyz Mentoring.”

 

 

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Some Homeboyz Mentoring members at 5-9-15 Oxnard Ambassadors of Peace March. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

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Edgar Mohorko, Pastor of Messiah Foursquare Church, Oxnard. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

Edgar Mohorko, Pastor of Messiah Foursquare Church has done outreach in the community for years.

Police Chief Jeri Williams and her department have tried various approaches to help reduce gang violence- prevention, intervention, enforcement.

We understand that Freda Wiggins played a key role in the  formation of the group which organized this event following the meeting with Oxnard PD.

All of these people and over 150 others from all walks of life came together Saturday morning, under the leadership of “Ambassadors of Peace,” a faith-based group, to make a non-partisan, non-accusatory, united statement of intentions- to unite, to heal, to move forward to make Oxnard a better, more peaceful place.

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Some members of Ambassadors of Peace march sponsors. 5-9-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

Just how exactly they plan to do that is a work in progress. Some is already underway and was evident at the event, at Colonia Park, along the march route through La Colonia and downtown Oxnard and at Plaza Park. We saw the dedication of multiple community churches, of concerned residents from all walks of life- children, workers, professionals, City officials, social workers and social welfare organizations, media, even former gang members. Notably not present were divisive, marginal protesters and rabble rousers. All of the messages were positive.  All were, how can we help, or this is what we’re doing , or please join us. The message delivered was the People are taking over and they would like whatever help they can get, but they are going to get it done.  This is good, since most experts feel that the roots of violence are in society.

 A visit to some of the booths and groups standing around the Plaza Park rally revealed some approaches, such as: Hopeboyz mentoring: It’s a pretty strong message to encounter tattoo-festooned former hardened gang members who have reformed their ways, found God, jobs, families, are living clean and then have them warn you not to take the unproductive detours in life that they did. Failing that, how about a post-prison “Re-Entry Support Group,” as community activist Eillen Tracy of All Saint’s Episcopal Church was offering- 805-201-1640. She says that family and community support are by far the most helpful and stabilizing factors for someone who is getting out of prison and has the odds stacked against him (yes, usually a “him”). Then there’s also the Learning Center and Counseling Center, to provide guidance and support to people in need (805-701-HOPE (4673). There are Oxnard PAL activities for kids to give them something to do, have goals, mentors and role models- (805) 385-8230. There is the aforementioned Gold Coast Fellowship Church. Also worth noting is the Child Development Resources “Head Start” preschool program for kids as young as 3, as well as “Port Hueneme Healing Rooms.

Just around the corner is the Center for Employment Training, an all-out trade school where young folks can probably qualify for financial assistance, to become a CNC manufacturing technician, qualified construction hand, medical technician and more:- (805) 487-9821. For kids still in high school, there are 22 different career academies in the district- you’d be foolish NOT to take advantage of this opportunity.  

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Police Chief Jeri Williams on Megaphone with Golden West Fellowship Church Rev. Greg Runyon address crowd at Colonia Park shortly before start of march. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

It is no accident that the march went through the historic La Colonia neighborhood, which is Oxnard’s Harlem, full of culture, life, sense of community, but also plagued with violence. Most times you would never know it, walking around and talking to people, or shopping at the stores. But, it has left its scars on the community, in the form of killed or missing residents, people who are afraid to go out and are frustrated and angry at the violent offenders, but also at the community, government and police who they think are unwilling or unable to put a stop to it. Some resent the police, who they believe are sometimes too heavy-handed or even biased in their enforcement. Any discussion of this was conspicuous by its absence on Saturday. The mood was conciliatory. It was what can WE do to avoid violence and respect and protect ALL lives. Hence the event slogan: “ALL LIVES MATTER.”

The police department has supported the Ambassadors’ approach fully and was all over the place Saturday at the event. Not to enforce, but to do everything they possibly could to facilitate the event to the greatest extent possible. Some of their people were even carrying signs and shouting slogans. But it was Rev. Greg Runyon who said last Wednesday on the KADYTV “Good Morning Oxnard Show”- “To ask the government to solve it would be an exercise in futility- but they’re gonna try it anyway.”  True, they can’t do it, but they sure could be a big help.

 

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Mayor Pro-tem Ramirez, Councilman Bryan MacDonald, Rev. Greg Runyon, City Manager Greg Nyhoff (not shown) and others voiced their support for this effort at 5-9-15 March for Peace/Rally. Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

There were other problems not discussed so much on Saturday, such as: release of 40,000 prisoners due to overcrowded state prisons, downside of Proposition 47 legal reforms, release of 68,000 illegal immigrant felons into the community, possibly without supervision, continuing economic problems not fully admitted by any government or news media, a continuing and now increasing homelessness problem.

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Mr. & Mrs Greg Nyhoff (Oxnard City Manager) and son marched and participated in Peace rally on 5-9-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

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Gold Coast radio VP Pablo Ortiz marches with Mayor ProTem Carmen Ramirez (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

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Much more support for police in this march

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La.DolceVita

Advertisement: a favorite downtown restaurant in a beautiful historic setting,

 

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Former Oxnard Finance Director/whistleblower Phil Molina, who won a large settlement from the City, was at the march. (Photo: CitizensJournal..us)

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Some participants signed this beautiful event poster at Plaza Park, Oxnard, 5-9-15. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

 

Oxnard Ambassadors of Peace stated mission: To transform the culture of violence in the greater Oxnard community, to one of peace, unity and love, one neighborhood at a time.

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This summed up the theme pretty well. (Photo: CitizensJournal.us)

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“To ask the government to solve it would be an exercise in futility- but they’re gonna try it anyway”- Greg Runyon (right), with KADYTV Host Peter Godinez- Photo: CitizensJournal.us

 

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Tragically, this happened the day after the rally, so there is still work to be done ….

Oxnard’s fifth homicide this year

Oxnard’s fifth homicide this year

On May 10, 2015, at approximately 2:17 a.m., officers from the Oxnard Police Department were dispatched to a shooting victim call in the 600 block of South Oxnard Blvd. Upon arrival, officers located a shooting victim in the west alley who was pronounced deceased by paramedics. It appears the victim, a 29 year old Hispanic male, […]

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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