Local News

Feb 11, 2010 8:48 PM by Monica Quintero

Santa Maria's youth violence conference concludes

It's been a big problem in Santa Maria and local leaders said solving youth violence will take the entire community. A three-day event wrapped up on Thursday which addressed that issue. More than 100 people took part. They pinpointed the largest problems in the community.

Mike Cordero, Santa Maria City Council, said, "It's not something that any one person or any one group of people or any one segment of the community is going to be able to resolve."

The stories are disturbing. Back in April, trails of blood marked the spot where an 18-year-old was stabbed and shot in a Santa Maria neighborhood. In June, police said someone fired at least 20-rounds at a victim's vehicle.

There were also nine suspected gang members arrested during a December gang enforcement operation. Cordero said, "We don't want to create another band aid." At a press conference, city leaders said the key to putting an end to violence starts with the youth. That's why out of the more than 100 people who took part about a dozen were young people.

Hilda Zacarias, Santa Maria City Council, said, "The 100 plus people that were there are different today than the folks who walked in the room on Tuesday. They're different because they started to form the relationships across their different groups."

"There was obviously some barriers between us and by the end I saw a transition there," said Cordero. Zacarias said, "For me, that means the work is going to have an impact as of now." A transition community leaders hope will put a stop to violence in Santa Maria.

So how long will it take for this problem to go away? Local leaders said it's not an overnight solution, this could take years. They also plan on forming small groups to address specific issues in hopes of resolving violence. Those involved said they came up with a list of problems they want to tackle including poverty, education, the economic realities and language barriers in the community.

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