Community leaders urge to stop gang violence

Monday, June 2nd 2008, 8:02 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

A murder trial's jury selection began Monday in the trial for Joshua Christon. He and Winford McKissick are accused of gunning down Christopher Thompson.

It happened in March 2007 outside the Community Food Mart on NE 23. Family members said Thompson, an ex-gang member, was turning his life around.

Christon and McKissick are known gang members. McKissick's murder trial is pending.

Community, city and state leaders are doing all they can to stop the cycle of violence and calling for a truce to gang activity.

They plan to talk to gang members one-on-one. The news couldn't come soon enough for some.

This announcement comes two days after the shooting of six teens over the weekend. Police are now saying the shooting was gang related.

A shooting Saturday night on SE 21 in Oklahoma City leaves six teens ranging in age from 14 to 17 injured.

Police said there was gang involvement and community leaders are said ‘enough.'

"We're letting Oklahoma City know that we're placing you on notice," Rep. Anastasia Pittman (D - Oklahoma City) said. "We're ready to take charge and we're ready to take control."

Rep. Pittman is one of several leaders calling for a truce to gang violence over the next five years. The group includes clergy, educators and law enforcement.

"The violence among gang members has gone up, even though you may not have an increased number of gang members themselves, the violence associated with that has gone up," Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said.

This group is part of the gang task force, and their new mission is to engage known gang members where they hang out to get them involved in non-gang activity.

Mayquie Jackson is a mother who's joining the task force.

"I wanted to help and help starts with the kids," Jackson said. "And these kids have to take care of us."

Jackson is also dealing with the reality of violence. Her 17-year-old son is in jail on a murder charge for the shooting death of a Midwest City woman back in April.

"It's the worst day of my life," Jackson said. "If I had the opportunity to die and come back, I would never want to do this again.

Now she is using what she's learned to prevent another mother or child from falling into her situation.

"Gang banging is contagious, it's contagious, and we have to find a cure for it," Jackson said.

The task force said another challenge to anti-gang efforts is funding; that's something they're working to fix.

As for that gang related shooting in April, the six teens were standing outside a home off SE 21 and Durland Saturday night when a car pulled up and people inside opened fire. All the victims are expected to recover. They said they do not know the suspects.

Three men, Michael Elix, Mantrail Johnson and Patrick Fleeks, all face charges of assault with a deadly weapon.