Update, Sept. 29, 9:45 a.m. The family march has been canceled due to a conflict with another event and some community pushback about the focus of the march. (The organizer has asked the community to attend the other event instead.) See the organizer’s statement about the cancelation in the comments at the bottom of this story.
Original post, Sept. 28: Two local mothers were spurred into action this week to organize a “family march” in South Berkeley after several incidents of gun violence in the neighborhood, one of which killed a 19-year-old man.
The “Family March for Safe Streets” is set to take place Thursday, Sept. 29, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Participants can meet at Sweet Adeline Bakeshop, 3350 Adeline St., beginning at 5 p.m. There will be free glow-stick necklaces for the first 50 children, and free glow-bracelets for the next 100.
Despite tonsillitis, South Berkeley resident and co-organizer Heather Zadig spoke before the Berkeley City Council during public comment for items not on the agenda on Tuesday night to alert the community to the march. The event, which is “not a protest,” is meant to help bring the community together and raise awareness about the recent shootings.
“They’re awful. They’re frequent,” she said to council, and said a number of local parents are concerned. “We’re moving our kids’ bedrooms away from the front of the street because there are sirens going by and waking them up in terror every night.”
Zadig said she had been losing sleep due to the recent shootings in the neighborhood, trying to figure out what she might be able to do or whether she should even get involved, when she heard a wave of sirens responding to the most recent shooting, Sunday night, which sent two people to the hospital.
The debate she had been having with her husband ended, and she reached a conclusion.
“I wouldn’t have been able to face my kids without doing something in response. Or look in the mirror,” Zadig told Berkeleyside. The idea for the march soon followed. Zadig and another local mother, Emily Modde, put it together. The women met for the first time as families eating at Sweet Adeline Bakeshop, then later found that their children were in preschool together.
(See the map above for the route, which was updated Wednesday.)
“It is short for little kids and designed for high evening commute visibility while taking advantage of large medians for pedestrian safety,” Zadig explained on the Facebook page. “This is a family-friendly stroll through the Adeline Corridor in South Berkeley to bring attention to an untenable number of recent shootings in South Berkeley. A community response is necessary to communicate to stakeholders and those committing such acts that violence will not be tolerated in our communities.”
Authorities say there have been at least 19 shootings in Berkeley already in 2016. (Berkeleyside has tallied 23, though not all have resulted in injuries.) The most recent spate of violence began Sept. 14 when police responded to an argument between two men at Sacramento Street and Ashby Avenue that involved gunfire but resulted in no injuries.
Two days later, a 17-year-old boy was shot in the face in West Berkeley after police said occupants of two cars shot at one another over a six-block area before one of the cars crashed and the other sped off. Police said that incident stemmed “from an ongoing conflict” between what BPD later identified as two gangs.
Officers said that shooting and several others “appear to have involved two groups shooting at each other. This does not appear to have been a random act, but rather an incident involving two groups of individuals targeting each other.” Police identified the groups as “gangs,” but no further information has been provided. (Update, Sept. 28, 5 p.m.: BPD is now saying it may not have been a gang-related incident.)
On Sept. 18, gunshots were fired near San Pablo Park. Around 7 p.m., a bicyclist shot at a pickup truck near the intersection of Oregon and Dohr streets. No one was injured in the shooting, although bullets did hit a number of houses, police said. The shooting was not random, according to authorities.
Last week Wednesday, Sept. 21, police responded to a shooting involved two parties or individuals — pedestrians and occupants of a truck — shooting at each other. A 16-year-old boy was injured but was expected to survive, police said.
On Thursday, 19-year-old Gregory Ignacio Jr. was fatally shot at Fairview and Harper streets. It was the year’s second homicide.
Authorities have said the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Alex Goodwin Jr. near San Pablo Park in August may have prompted some of the gun violence that has followed. The city is offering a reward of $15,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in that case.
See the Facebook event page about Thursday’s march, as well as the Facebook group, to learn more about what is planned and connect with organizers.
2 shot and injured at Alcatraz and King in Berkeley (09.25.16)
Friends mourn loss of 19-year-old gunned down in Berkeley (09.23.16)
Berkeley police step up patrols after recent shootings (09.23.16)
Update: Homicide victim ID’d as Berkeley 19-year-old (09.22.16)
Police respond to gunfire calls; teenage boy struck (09.21.16)
2 feuding groups go on shooting spree through West Berkeley (09.20.16)
Juvenile shot in the face in West Berkeley (09.16.16)
Police hunt for man who fired gun during argument (09.14.16)
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