Mission residents connect at community meeting

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Police hosted a Mission community meeting yesterday in response to the Sept. 16 death of Jesus Solis, 20, who was shot at Treat Ave and 26th St. But before the meeting could take place on its scheduled date, another shooting took place; police officers shot Oscar Barceñas, 22, Sept. 20. Barceñas has survived his injuries.

The second shooting sparked two nights of late-night demonstrations during which protesters broke the windows of banks and a local business and painted “killers” on the Mission police station.

At last night’s meeting, Police Chief Greg Suhr, district Captain Robert Moser, and district Sup. David Campos spoke to a group of more than 100, then listened as the group asked questions, commented on their experiences and made suggestions. Ricardo Garcia-Acosta, regional director of the Community Response Network, took a seat next to the city officials about halfway through the meeting to address the community as well.
 
Suhr said that Barceñas may have been planning to act in revenge for the death of Solis.

Many at the meeting spoke of their mourning process for Solis, known as Chuy. He had been working, employed with help from the office of Sup. David Campos, before he was killed last week.

“This individual was trying go change his life. He was going to work, we was trying to turn his life around,” Campos said during the meeting.

Long-time Mission resident Roberto Hernandez said that he has been to 50 meetings after deaths of people in the community.

“I’ve buried too many kids in this barrio,” said Hernandez.

How to help?

Some residents at the meeting called for increased police presence, and one requested mounted police at Garfield Park. Others, such as Yaron Milgram, owner of two upscale restaurants in the 24th street area, expressed a desire to be more involved in the community.

“I know that there’s been a lot of change, and I know I’m considered part of that change,” said Milgram.

Many at the meeting had suggestions of how other residents could help.

Some advocated getting to know neighbors.

“For some of you hear who are quick to call the cops, when’s the last time you went outside and said how, how are you guys doing? What are your names?” said Garcia-Acosta.

“It really hurts when you hear people ask for these youth to be pushed out of the neighbrohood,” said Susana Rojas, director of the Mission Clubhouse. “Never forget they’re somebody’s son, they’re somebody’s brother, they might be somebody’s dad.”

She said that, if residents didn’t want to talk to the kids themselves, “talk to the people that are working with them" to learn more about them. She recommended donating to local community centers like the Mission Boys and Girls Club and the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, where the meeting was held.

“A lot of the people I work with, they’re angry," said Jae Maldonado, Community School Coordinator at Buena Vista/ Horace Mann. "The community is changing at a pace they don’t have any control over.”

Maldonado suggested that local business owners play an active role in getting resources and jobs to youth, offering Mission Pie as an example of a company that employs local youth and helps prepare employees for careers in catering or baking.

One resident, Anabelle Bolaños, decided to help set up a police and community meeting in Spanish, which she hopes can take place monthly. According to staff at the Mission Police Department, the first such meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place at some point in November. Tonight, police will host their regular community meeting at Mission Police Station meeting, which occur the last Tuesday of every month at 6pm.

Rojas also announced a "peace march," to leave Thursday from 24th and Mission at 4pm.

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