This week, dozens of local faith leaders, law enforcement officers and violence prevention activists representing grassroots organizations joined me to discuss the impact of violence in our communities and to begin a dialogue on how to make change through collective action. It was our first conversation and an important step to take.
The "San Fernando Valley Community-Interfaith Dialogue to Stop Violence" was a forum to share ideas about how we can take action to prevent violence more effectively -- whether through education, intervention or supportive resources -- and to identify priorities and ways to create a multi-disciplined approach to stop violence.
Violence is something that has touched our communities far too many times in far too many ways. Whether gun violence, domestic violence, gang violence or some other type, senseless acts of violence and tragic, often preventable accidents have altered the lives of our friends, families and neighbors across the city.
I hosted this community-interfaith dialogue at the First Christian Church of North Hollywood to get people who are already working on the issue into the same room to share information and best practices, come up with ways to support each other's work and establish communication between organizations in the San Fernando Valley.
At the event, we heard from LAPD officers who do innovative work with the community to prevent crime and set first-time offenders on the right path. We discussed how the city's Domestic Violence Awareness Response Team and the Crisis Response Team deal with difficult situations and advocate for victims. We learned about the work of activists and faith leaders to raise awareness about the perils of gun violence. These examples lead the group to discuss, in depth, what challenges our city and organizations face in combating violence, what tactics are working (and which ones aren't) and how we can better collaborate in the future to achieve our common goals.
I also spoke to the group about my efforts with the City Council to make LA a national leader in preventing gun violence and promoting gun safety. Last year, the city made law my motions banning the possession of large-capacity magazines and mandating the safe storage of firearms at home. Enacting these laws was the necessary first step. Educating the public about them through our bus ad campaign has been another important advancement. But there is more work to be done.
Ultimately, I hope this dialogue will lead us toward constructing a stronger community-government partnership to prevent violence. For the sake of our families and our future, we need to coalesce and combine our efforts into an effective movement to make violence socially unacceptable in all communities and to keep our neighborhoods safe.
Please contact me if you have ideas or thoughts about how to better prevent violence in our city: [email protected] or 213-473-7002.