POMONA (CBSLA.com) — More than 200 people gathered in Pomona Sunday for a day of prayer that is hoping to stem gun violence in that community.
Art Barron, reporting for CBS2, said community leaders, church officials, police, politicians and the community all met in the football stands of Ganesha High School.
He said they were all hoping this day — called “The Pomona Day Of Prayer” — could help turn things around in the violence-plagued city.
Cheryl Perez attended. Her 28-year-old daughter, Sonia, was shot and killed by police when she allegedly brandished a handgun at gang task force officers in a motel parking lot this past March.
“I have not started to heal yet,” said Perez. “It wasn’t fair.”
This was a first of its kind event, reported Barron. A show of solidarity, organizers said, to help end violence.
“This is the community coming together,” said Perez, “this is a start for us in Pomona.”
Organizers called for multicultural unity and all shared one message — to put down the guns.
Community leader Jason Scott told Barron it was important for Pomona to take this first step.
“The city of Pomona needs not only a religious revival but a revival of their minds — people have to know, this is not the scum of the Earth. This is a place that can be built up.”
Bishop Henry Alexander of the Shield of Faith Christian Church concurred.
“We are attempting to build the practical part, as well as the spiritual part of our city,” Alexander said.
There have been 25 murders in Pomona this year, as compared to 17 all of last year.
“That has to change and that will change as we get more involved with our kids,” Alexander said.
City leaders are aware that multiple images of shootings and drive-bys do nothing to help the image of the city. The night in August, for example, when four shootings occurred within six hours of each other.
“We have to come together as one, we have to show we are re-united,” said Perez.
Barron said community leaders and politicians are hoping to soon change the image of the city — a more positive image, of course, would lead to economic growth and create jobs and reduce the violence.