Photo Credit: JENNY BOLARIO/Youth Radio
By: Denise Tejada
Over 130 cars full of Oakland, Calif. residents lined up as early as 6 a.m. this past Saturday outside of Saint Benedict’s church to get rid of their guns in exchange for $200 cash. Youth Uprising, a youth empowerment organization in Oakland, organized the anonymous gun buyback with the help of the Oakland Police Department. The event was funded by a $100,000 donation from Kieth Stephenson, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Stephenson is President of the Purple Heart Patient Center, a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif.
Captain Ersie Joyner of the Oakland Police said they were surprised by the types of guns that were turned in. ”At other gun buyback programs we‘ve often gotten guns that are not operable, or old dusty musket-type firearms. These are kind of like high caliber...these are the types of guns that are used in robberies...” said Joyner.
Three hundred guns were turned in to the Oakland location on Saturday. Youth Uprising hopes this serves as a “strong violence prevention” tool because they say too many people fall victim to shootings in Oakland.
On the other side of the Bay Bridge, The Omega Boy's Club held a simultaneous gun buyback in partnership with the San Francisco Police Department. They also bought approximately 300 guns.
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Oakland Police will check the collected guns to see if they are linked with any reported crimes. If not, they will be destroyed.
Moving forward, Captain Joyner would like to see Oakland residents stay engaged in supporting community needs. “This [gun buyback] is not a police initiative, this is something that was born from the community....not only in gun buyback programs but other methods as well,” said Joyner.
Sikander Iqbal, Director of Youth Leadership at Youth Uprising, said he was surprised by the number of people who attended Saturday’s event, but it shows that, “There is a need for this kind of work.” They will work on allocating more funds to hold another gun buyback in the near future.
Iqbal says, he imagines that the mass shooting that took place in Newtown, Connecticut this past Friday influenced some Oakland residents to sell their guns.
Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
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