STOCKTON, Calif. — As the city of Stockton deals with a recent uptick in gun violence, community leaders are saying "enough is enough."
"It causes us to want to come together to unite and figure out 'What can we do better? What can we do to better our community to make it safer,'" said Pastor Pam, a Stockton Community Leader.
There have been nine homicides in Stockton in just the first two months of 2022 — a grim reality for the city and for the people who live there who are all affected in some way by the string of violence, according to Stephanie Hatten with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice.
"We have to embrace the community because we have our Hispanics, we have our Asians, we have our African-Americans and our Caucasians," said Hatten. "They are all affected, and I am in constant contact with those people and unfortunately, our pain is the same."
Hatten lost her own son to gun violence and now works towards preventing other families from enduring the same pain and trauma she went through. She says if gun violence continues in Stockton, there won't be any healing in the community.
"Put those guns down — at least right then and there, there's a mother or sister or a brother or a niece that's not gonna feel that pain that almost killed me," Hatten said.
In response to the uptick in homicides, community leaders, activists, and those personally affected by gun violence gathered at Victory Park on Saturday to plan for a prayer and candlelight vigil happening next week. It is expected to remember not just the nine victims lost, but to wrap their arms around the families who have been dealing with tremendous loss and have a time of healing, a time of discussion and a time to collaborate in order to address the pervasive violence that has been ongoing. Their motto is collaboration over competition.
"It's just been devastating for our community," said Curtis Smith, Interim executive director for Faith in The Valley. "We need a place where the community can come together and basically just grieve and start the healing process."
The candlelight and prayer vigil will be held at Victory Park on Tuesday at 6:30 P.M. on the steps of the Haggin Museum. All members of the public are welcome to attend.
"We are standing with them, we are praying with them for strength," said Pastor Pam.