Cathedral Clergy Join Call for Peace
Last month, Fresno City Council passed a motion to help fund Advanced Peace in the city of Fresno. Advance Peace is a fellowship and mentoring program for gang members deemed most likely to commit gun crimes.
"The idea behind the program is to identify the most active firearm-wielding criminals in the community and try to change their behavior," according to a recent Fresno Bee article. "That’s done through one-on-one intervention, therapy and mentoring."
Other California cities including Richmond, Stockton, and Sacramento have adopted the program. Faith in the Valley and their clergy partners, including all of the clergy of the Cathedral, are hoping to bring the innovative program to Fresno in 2020.
Unfortunately, following the initial support in City Council, Mayor Brand recently vetoed the budget item for 2020. By Thursday, July 25, five votes City Councilmembers votes are needed to override the Mayor's veto of Advanced Peace funding.
On June 20, Councilmember Paul Caprioglio was one of two Fresno City Councilmembers who voted against allocating $200,000 out of the city’s $1.1 billion budget to fund Advanced Peace. Mr. Caprioglio is the Councilmember who represents District 4 where the Cathedral of St. James resides.
Throughout the last month, under the leadership of Faith in the Valley team and Dean Ryan, numerous attempts have been made to communicate with Councilmember Caprioglio. Unfortunately, the Councilmember has been unresponsive to phone calls and emails.
"Councilmember Paul Caprioglio serves District 4, which includes St. James Episcopal Cathedral and the offices of both the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and Faith in the Valley-Fresno," states Dean Ryan Newman.
"This is a crucial opportunity for the City of Fresno and many of us in District 4 have been attempting to connect with the Councilmember. We hope to share our stories and why we believe this is the right anti-gun violence program for Fresno. Sadly, our inquiries have fallen on deaf ears."
This week, on behalf of Faith in the Valley and their clergy partners, Dean Ryan sent a letter to Councilmember Caprioglio's office.
Bishop David Rice, Canon Anna Carmichael, Deacon Nancy Key, Deacon Terrance Goodpasture, and Dean Ryan Newman all signed the letter to Councilmember Paul Caprioglio with 22 other Fresno clergy leaders.
"Our window of opportunity for 2020 is closing," says Dean Ryan. "It is sad and frustrating when politics trumps public safety and community empowerment."
"The Cathedral of St. James and the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin will continue to promote and work for peace, healing, and reconciliation. We seek a better world and that begins for us in the City of Fresno and throughout the entire Central Valley.”