Recent violence on the streets of Bakersfield has once again renewed efforts to reduce gang crimes and bring peace to our community.
Consistently spreading love, education, hope and trust - it's the goal for the Bakersfield Safe Streets Partnership.
"There’s violence all over our city. So I'm doing what I can to take a chunk at a time out and be an impact on someone's life," said Manuel Carrizalez, founder of Stay Focused Ministries and BSSP leader.
He said tonight's meeting was to talk about the latest gang outreach event and focus on ways to improve future ones.
"Stand in the gap by staying consistent in the streets, then we are going to make an impact," said Carrizalez.
New member , Marisa Banks with the Body of Christ Church said she got involved because gang activity is hitting close to home.
"In two square miles you have a concentration on violence and it just so happens that our particular church location sits in the middle of the two square miles," she said.
Banks said violence is often happening from Washington Street to South H Street and from Highway 58 to Truxtun Avenue, "often times when we don't live in that area we don't believe that we are affected but your children go to school with some of these individuals, your children are friends with them on Instagram, Snapchat..."
Banks believes that by spreading faith, they can reach out to more individuals.
"We have to show indeed there's a way out."
Also at issue tonight: how to curb gun violence within the city.
According to the group, who partners with the Bakersfield Police Department, in 2015 there were 63 reported shootings.
"Some of these people aren't gang members. Some of these people are just mad, you know? They're angry. So the violence has gone up," said Carrizalez.
He said the only way to lower those numbers is to take action in the community and get others involved.
"There's a saying: 'Evil happens to good men when good men do nothing.' And that's what we have to do, step up to the plate and reach out to the outcasts and brokenhearted," said Carrizalez.
Bakersfield Safe Streets is planning another outreach event for next month.
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