A coalition of faith leaders and community members in East Oakland held a night walk recently to call for an end to gun violence and homicides in the city.

The group, called Faith in Action East Bay marched Friday through 82nd and Bancroft avenues in East Oakland, hoisting placards at moving vehicles with inscriptions, “Honk for no more homicides; Oakland Ceasefire,” and “Ceasefire in Oakland.”

“Violence has increased throughout. I have a church truck up in the Oakland hills near the zoo that just got broken into yesterday; this happens all the time,” said the Rev. Jayson Landeza, a pastor at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Oakland and a member of the coalition. “There’s a lot of pain. We need to find nonviolent ways to deal with conflict. We need to bring down this level of violence.”

Marchers wear safety vests branded with the Faith in Action East Bay logo during a peace walk in Oakland on Friday evening. (Charles Ayitey/Bay City News)

Last year’s crime report by the Oakland Police Department shows homicides decreased for the first time in four years. But Cedrick Emerson, a native of Oakland and organizer of the night walk, believes the data does not reflect what happens in the streets. The 40-year-old father of two who lost two cousins to gun violence said the city needs efficient law enforcement to deal with crime.

“Guns have been pulled on me countless times going to school, getting robbed,” said Emerson, who coordinates one-on-one meetings with at-risk individuals and law enforcement for a community-police partnership called Ceasefire. “I’ve been accustomed, not even comfortable with, just accustomed to gun violence.”

Protesters display placards to passing vehicles on Bancroft Avenue in Oakland during a night walk for peace on Friday. (Charles Ayitey/Bay City News)

Ceasefire is a partnership-based, intelligence-led, and data-driven violence reduction strategy adopted by the Oakland Police Department in partnership with faith organizations and civil society groups in Oakland. The goal is to combine the best of community energies, social services, faith organizations, and strategic law enforcement to reduce gun violence.

The night walk was part of an effort by the coalition to raise awareness about gun violence and to call for action from city leaders.

“We need to do everything we can to stop this violence,” the Rev. Landeza said. “We need to come together as a community and demand for change.”

Charles is a Knight Foundation intern at Bay City News and a Master of Journalist candidate at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He freelanced for Oakland Side and Oakland North on race, equity, and health outcomes in the Bay Area. Before his graduate studies, Charles worked as a Business reporter in Ghana, West Africa, covering financial markets and rising startups. At Bay City News, he is interested in reporting on public health and the intersections of race and equity in the Bay Area.