IMG_2349Billed as a series of events for family, fun, and food on Fridays, the City and community sponsored Peace in the Parks program started at two parks in East Oakland  and is adding a West Oakland location this coming Friday.

This is the third year for the program, which aims to take back parks in areas with a history of gun violence. The 2 events this past Friday took place at Willie Wilkins park near 98th Ave and Carter Gilmore park on 66th Ave.

Carlo of Messangers 4 Change at Wilkins Park near 98th Avenue.One of the young men and women volunteering to put the events on,  Carlo Matteo of Messengers 4 Change (M4C),  explained that M4C was hired to hold activities for youth in targeted parks and to bring the community out.  “Last week we did outreach throughout the community, going up and down these streets to 66th Avenue to let everyone know in the area that this event will be happening every Friday [during the summer] right here and at 66th, from 6 to 9 pm. Every Friday.”    He said the crew were wearing yellow or white T-shirts and would be involved in serving food, face painting and other activities for kids

“This has been a hot spot in Oakland for some time,” Carlo added.  “So we are trying to bring the community together and show them that is is a safe place for kids and families to come out and have a good time”
Funding for the East Oakland program comes from a Federal grant received from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a grant from the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth, and some funds from the Mayor’s Office.
Acting OPD Chief  Sean Whent and Mayor Jean Quan attended the kickoff at both parks.  Mayor Quan explained the importance of the Peace in the Parks program this way:

Mayor Quan speaking with neighbors at Wilkins Park. All photos by Howard Dyckoff, HD Photograpy.

“If you bring the neighborhood together, if you bring parents and youth together, it tends to build a stronger community.  The neighborhood becomes safer, Young people have more productive options including mentoring, and jobs, and its a good way to bring down the violence.   This  is the third year we are doing this and the second year in this park.  Next week we will be adding one in West Oakland.”

The first West Oakland event is a block party on July 19th at 3233 Market Street.  This Friday Night Live is co-hosted by the City of Oakland, Alameda County Public Health Dept, the YMCA, Oakland Un1te (Measure Y), and Councilmember McElhaney’s D3 Pride group.

About 100 people – youth, parents, fire fighters, police – enjoyed the food and music at each of the East Oakland Parks.  Radio station KPRI set up a tent and  provided music at Wilkins park.

Peace-in-Parks-posterPastor Martin Ray Peters, who works with the City’s Cease Fire program.  said that Peace n the Park has been successful in reducing violence over the last 2 years, adding, ”  I think it will be real effective over the next 6 weeks.”

See featured photos from the Peace in the Parks kickoff below.  For full sized images, click HERE.





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