Push to get mentors for Fresno children following violent weekend: ‘No outlet for a lot of our youth’

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FRESNO, California (KSEE) – After a violent week in Fresno, the community is pushing to get more mentors for local children.

According to the Fresno Police Department, there were 17 shootings Oct. 12-19. Additionally, there have been over 560 shootings to date in Fresno in 2020 – including a shooting this last weekend where Captain Mindy Casto said a teenager killed a man and injured another outside of a Cigar Shop.

“Obviously anytime a 15-year-old is involved in a murder that really concerns us and that is what happened this weekend,” said Casto.

Deputy Chief Mark Salazar said there are three keys to reducing crime: prevention, intervention, and enforcement.

“Right now that prevention is a little tough cause there is no school,” said Salazar. “There are no community centers that are open. There is no outlet for a lot of our youth.”

The Fresno Boys & Girls Club reopened Monday. There will be limited capacity with several precautions. Staff members hope to help children feeling isolated.

“It is so devastating,” said VP of Development Kathryn Weakland. “For us, it has broken our hearts to not be here to be able to support kids. I mean that is what they need.”

The club will accept groups of children for two weeks, then a new group will rotate through.
The classrooms stayed empty since the pandemic began in March. Weakland said for many children this was their safe space.

“How do you right that ship?” said Weakland. “How do you get them to know we are here to support them? I am sure that they feel like they were abandoned.”

The Police Activities League is in the process of opening the boxing gym and computer lab at the Hinton Center in southwest Fresno.

“It will make a difference,” said Weakland. “I have no doubt in my mind and my heart. That being open, having the Boys & Girls Club for them to walk into and know that we will be there to support them. We hope that makes a difference and begins to right that ship.”

Weakland said before the pandemic, around 6000 children went to various Boys & Girls Clubs across Fresno.

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