Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom has accepted an invitation to meet with a “town hall forum” concerning a regional strategy on youth violence scheduled for Tuesday, January 30, at 7:00 p.m. at St. Anne’s Church and Shrine. The invitation, issued in a December 13 letter signed by Fr. Mike Gutierrez of St. Anne’s and Jared Rivera, executive director of LA Voice-PICO, was also issued to the entire community (St. Anne’s is at the corner of 20th Street and Colorado Avenue).
The January 30 forum is a follow-up to a September 17, 2006 forum which faith community organizers had billed as a “regional response to youth violence” following in the wake of several incidents in Santa Monica and across the Westside. That day, speakers representing elected officials, law enforcement, clergy, community groups, city staff, churchgoers and service providers called for a vigorous, concerted, regional approach to the lethal dangers of youth violence in the region.
Since that time, organizers have outlined a youth employment program and a teacher home visit program which the December 13 letter describes as “two strategies for which we seek your [Mayor Bloom’s] help to implement in Santa Monica and throughout the region.”
Also since the September forum, which was limited to Santa Monica participation although it called for regional solutions, LA Voice-PICO reports that First Baptist Church of Venice has decided to “join the campaign” and the SM/Venice Chapter of the NAACP has become “instrumental,” expanding the effort to at least the Venice neighborhood.
√”Gang violence continues to be one of our most serious and frustrating issues,” Mayor Bloom told the Mirror. He will be meeting with City staff before January 30 to assess the City’s efforts, both recently undertaken initiatives and long-standing projects.
(LA Voice-PICO is an interfaith, community organization that works for safer neighborhoods among other goals; it is the Southern California arm of PICO National Network, a faith-based network founded by a Jesuit priest in 1972 and headquartered in Oakland, California. “PICO” is “People Improving Communities through Organizing,” and has no relation to the Pico neighborhood of Santa Monica.)