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Selma community demands change after 3 shootings in 5 days

Yolanda Torrez organized a meeting where community members could speak to their elected officials

Families in Selma say they are fed up.

There were three shootings in a span of just five days, one of which was deadly.

Sunday, the community hosted a meeting where citizens hammered into their elected officials, calling for change.

Many of the people who came out to the meeting Sunday know people who were involved in recent shootings. That was one of the messages they were trying to communicate.

“Who’s taking control of the City of Selma to make it better? Who? Nobody!” shouted one person from the audience of Selma community members at the meeting.

That was the general tone of Sunday’s gathering.

Yolanda Torrez organized the meeting with community members, the Mayor, the City Council, and the City Manager.

She identifies as a “citizen” of Selma – nothing more.

“I personally know the families of some of the victims that we lost. One of them was like a son to me, and it’s still very emotional,” said Torrez to the crowd of people who gathered at Lincoln Park Sunday evening.

Notably absent, was the Chief of Police.

“He’s always been aware, but where is he? He’s got his citizens here tonight! We’re all voicing our opinion, worried about our town, our city,” demanded one person from the crowd.

“He has to be aware that this is happening, so why isn’t he here to face the citizens and give us answers that we need?” demanded Jose Moreno, a crowd member.

“Well, I want to share with you that he was not able to be here. But I let him know that I would be here and I will listen to your concerns and share them,” answered Teresa Galavan, Selma’s City Manager.

Selma is recovering from three shootings in just five days.

December 12th, two brothers were shot – a 19 year old and a 15 year old.

The night before, an 18-year-old was shot.

And police are investigating a shooting from Saturday morning. No one was hurt that time.

“We cannot blame the chief of Police for shootings. It’s going to happen in every city. But what we need to do is hold him accountable for not having a plan of action when these things happen in our community. We are losing families. We’re losing children. We’re losing fathers and daughters and mothers. This has to stop,” said Torrez.

The meeting brought people of all ages to speak up.

“It all starts in our households. The change starts with us. We can’t let our leaders take all the responsibility. We need to speak up,” said Roberto and Humberto Partida to the crowd.

Roberto Partida is just 13 years old.

His brother Humberto is a 17-year-old at Selma High School. He started a club called “Hear Me” where anyone can go and talk about anything they want.

“We know that there’s a problem, so to acknowledge the problem is the first step. Then to focus on solutions is the next step. We need to get to that,” said Humberto Partido.

“Some people thought it would be cool to be in a gang or something and most of the kids are like, always getting in trouble or getting in fights,” added Roberto Partido.

The Mayor says he hears everyone, and has more than just intentions. He has a plan.

“What the people have communicated to me is that they want to see more police officers on the street. They want to see more of a police presence, and that will deter crime. It won’t solve it certainly, but it would help,” said Mayor Scott Robertson.

One man who spoke up at the meeting says he witnessed a shooting, and no longer feels safe at home or at work. His idea is to put cameras on each of Selma’s 14 traffic lights.

He says that could have drastically helped catch the shooters in the incident he witnessed, and thinks would help in the future as well.

One of the agenda items for the next council meeting is “Goals and Directions for 2019”. The Mayor is encouraging everyone to show up to voice their concerns. The meeting is January 22nd at 6 PM.

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