Bakersfield organization sending strong message

Silent Gap organizes event

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -  

A group of people impacted by crime violence is sending a strong message from the streets of central Bakersfield.

Family members of those murdered in random acts of violence are speaking up this weekend and working to reduce crime around the community.

Patrick Haynes, 20, knows the pain of losing a loved one.

“To have someone here for so long and to have them gone it kind of hurts," he said.

Haynes is taking to the streets, hoping to put an end to all the on-going violence taking place.

"Stop doing what you're doing.  Just think first before you do something like that because you can hurt a lot of people," said Haynes.

The demonstration down central Bakersfield is part of the silent gap, an organization promoting peace. 

"We don't' understand death until it's in your face.  It’s a community problem and it's going to take a community effort to solve the problem," said Shawanna Vaughn, director of Silent Gap.

Leaders with the organization use a casket to showcase the realities of gang violence.

"It’s out of control and I'm hoping by this demonstration in the community that people will actually see it and do something about it.  If it’s nothing, to just plant the seed of watching it down the street," said Vaughn.

The march through neighborhoods in central Bakersfield is also a time for many families to remember and pay tribute to their loved ones. 

"It's a way to express the fact that we miss my brother and the hope that other people get the message and not take lives from families.  You don't just affect our family, you affect your family as well," said Jacqueline Cameron, who lost her brother as a result of crime violence.

Volunteers with the group say it’s never too late for young people to turn their lives around and focus on the future.

"Stay in school, stay in your local church, get into some mentoring programs, just get a good mentor and stay off the street because there isn’t nothing out there for you,” said Chris Ambriz of Basham Funeral Care.

Organizers are planning to host other events throughout the year to help combat crime around the community.

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