SACRAMENTO — After a violent weekend of suspected gang-related shootings, Tuesday the Sacramento City Council took action to reduce the bloodshed.
It approved a controversial program called Advance Peace, which offers cash stipends to gang members who remain peaceful.
The program is already in use in Richmond and is also being considered in Stockton. Some believe it can help curb violent crime.
The vote came the same night as a vigil for the latest victim of gun violence in South Sacramento.
“He was a wonderful father, and he was a soon-to-be father,” said Aliseah Cadena, the victim’s daughter. “And I wish I could have him back.”
Aliseah Cadena is still in shock after her father, 49-year-old Ernie Cadena was gunned down along with four others at Meadowview Park on Sunday, where a group had gathered to film a music video.
“It was his only day off from work, and he just came to the wrong place at the wrong time,” Aliseah Cadena said.
Ernie Cadena didn’t survive the shooting.
“I truly miss him, a lot,” his daughter said.
“Five people were shot in Meadowview on Sunday,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.
The homicide prompted Steinberg to push up a vote on the controversial Advance Peace program by two weeks.
“Let’s get going on doing everything we can to save innocent lives,” Steinberg said.
The program targets key gang agitators, offering them cash stipends to graduate school and remain peaceful. It already claims success in dropping crime rates in Richmond. But the city would still have to pay half the cost of the program, $1.5 million out of the city’s general fund.
“In multiple places in the resolution, we say it’s a four-year contract, in the contract, we call it a three-year contract, those are key critical terms, they don’t agree,” said Councilwoman Angelique Ashby.
During the discussion leading up to the vote, Ashby criticized the Advance Peace contract’s language — often butting heads with the mayor.
But in the end, the council agreed to the program, voting 9-0 in favor.
“He was a good guy, trust me on that,” said Allen Brown, a friend of Ernie Cadena.
Still some of Cadena’s friends fail to see how the program will change things on the street.
“How’s the vote going to change anything? It’s up to the community to change. You know what I mean? It’s just senseless,” Brown said.
Although the city council voted the program in, the contract language is still being reworked by city staff.
Meanwhile, Cadena’s friends and family want it to be known that he was not a gang member, but police believe the person who fired the shots that killed him may have been.