Following a deadly weekend in the city in which a 9-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy were shot and killed in separate incidents, Sacramento leaders called Monday for an end to youth violence while promising to find more money for youth programs and violence prevention.
“An eye for an eye only leads to everybody becoming blind,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Monday during a press conference outside City Hall.
Since Saturday afternoon, there have been at least five shootings in the city and county. Four of those have been deadly, including the fatal shooting of a 9-year-old girl Saturday in Mama Marks Park in Del Paso Heights. Also on Saturday, 17-year-old Jaylen Betschart, a senior at Sacramento High School, was found shot to death in his vehicle after it crashed near Granite Regional Park.
No arrests had been announced in the cases as of Monday night.
Councilman Allen Warren, who represents Del Paso Heights, will propose the city fund renovations and security cameras at Mama Marks Park, increase investment in the police department gang task force and invest in the two libraries in the area, Councilwoman Angelique Ashby told the media Monday. Warren did not attend the press conference, but plans to announce those proposals Tuesday morning.
“Every park in the city on a Saturday afternoon should be a perfectly safe place for a nine-year-old girl and we won’t rest until it is,” Ashby said.
Violent crime has increased significantly in Sacramento this year compared to 2019. The number of murders, rapes and aggravated assaults have all risen, according to FBI data.
Steinberg said the council has spent federal coronavirus stimulus funds (CARES) toward reducing community violence and uplifting disadvantaged communities.
Earlier this year, the council allocated $1.25 million in CARES money and $750,000 from a gang intervention grant to the Black Child Legacy Campaign’s Healing the Hood program, in response to a previous uptick in violence over the summer. The organization aims to eliminate youth gun violence, and offers a variety of services to children and young adults ages 10 through 22.
The council also allocated $1.3 million in CARES funding toward youth “pop up” activity nights; $1.3 million for youth mental health services; $790,000 to youth enrichment; and $250,000 on family mental health initiatives
But the CARES money has now all been allocated and must be spent by the end of the year. To answer the question of how the city will fund youth programs and violence prevention after that, Steinberg hinted at the “strong mayor” measure called “Measure A.”
The measure would make the mayor the most powerful office in the city and would also set aside $40 million a year for inclusive economic development, including at least $10 million for youth services. The $40 million could include some of the money the city is already spending on inclusive economic development and youth services.
“The real question now is, since CARES is one time, is what are we going to do now going forward to sustain that investment,” Steinberg said. “That’s where the issues of the day and the campaigns et cetera are calling the appropriate questions.”
Ashby, who supports the controversial “strong mayor” ballot measure, made the point more explicitly.
“I’m going to tell you something the mayor won’t,” Ashby said. “Forty million toward youth annually is a really big deal and shouldn’t be ignored.”
Ballots hit the mailboxes of Sacramento voters this week.
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