Sacramento activists say more needs to be done to prevent youth homicides

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – The city of Sacramento is dealing with an alarming rise in youth homicides in 2020.

Sacramento police report, as of November, at least four people under the age of 18 have been killed within city limits.

The statistic is a stark contrast from 2018 and 2019 where there were zero youth murders in the city.

Community members are searching for answers after the latest killings of 17-year-old Sa’quan Reed-James and his 19-year-old brother, Dewayne James Jr., who were shot while out Black Friday shopping.

Activist and Voice of the Youth founder Berry Accius told FOX40 he believes the pandemic is leading to the spike. 

“Anytime is a go. They don’t care if it’s at a cemetery. They don’t care if it’s at a park. They don’t care if it’s at the mall,” Accius explained. “You have families losing their jobs. You have families being displaced. You have all these different things, and an idle mind becomes a devil’s playground, right?”

And with many kids distance learning and sports not being held, Accius said he’s worried mentors who would usually step in don’t have the same opportunities to do so.

Founder of the nonprofit Empact, Leia Schenk, told FOX40 that parents and community leaders need to step up.

“We have to be more present. We have to be present and be able to provide resources that these families can utilize,” Schenk said.

The city has used roughly $20 million in CARES Act funding for youth programs and workforce development but Accius said he believes more consistent investment is needed for true change.

“Young people can find a gun in their community more quickly than they can find a job opportunity. We’re saying we need a better investment in our communities,” Accius said.

Police are still searching for the shooter from the killings at Arden Fair Mall. 

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