Anti-gang coalition to meet Thursday to advance awareness | NevadaAppeal.com

Anti-gang coalition to meet Thursday to advance awareness

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

A judge, a pastor and a car enthusiast are among presenters scheduled to address residents interested in learning more about the local gang situation.

The Carson City Community Coalition will meet 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center to continue highlighting the issue.

The fledgling anti-gang coalition was created last month to curb gang violence and spread awareness about gang activities.

“Each person will present a different perspective,” said JoAnne Skelly, Carson City and Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, who is helping the coalition organize this event.

Francisco Rodriguez is married, the father of three young daughters, and works at Snap-On Tools. He is active in the community as the president of the Estil-Low Car Club and a participant in the coalition.

Rodriguez, 30, leads a busy and fulfilling life now. But he remembers what it was like to be young and involved with gangs. He’ll be talking about his experiences.

“I know how it feels,” he said. “I’m going to tell the parents what it’s like.”

This is a city where there isn’t that much for youths to do, so parents need to make extra effort to show their kids how to “help themselves and be productive members of the community,” Rodriguez said.

His car club, for example, is helping the community by building bikes for children and conducting graffiti cleanups.

Justice of the Peace Pro-Tem Karl Neathammer also will be one of the speakers. He has encountered an array of gang-related cases during his legal career.

Involvement in gangs is “a hard life these kids are choosing for themselves,” Neathammer said.

The shooting at a local teen party in October, that left one person dead and another injured, got residents interested in the issue. However, he said it will take long-term commitment from people representing all segments of the community for the situation to improve.

Also scheduled to speak is the Rev. John Aguilar with Capital Christian Center, who helped bring the Victory Outreach production of “Blood In, Blood Out” to the city this month. He’ll talk about what transpired during the event.

The play about the life of former Mexican Mafia hit man Art Blajos drew an audience of roughly 250 people. Blajos, now a religious man, spoke against gang involvement.

Residents are encouraged to join the fledgling coalition. There also will be literature about parenting and various community resources available.

Skelly is compiling data and statistics about local gangs. Since the shooting, “there is an immediacy to the project,” she said.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.

If you go

What: Carson City Community Coalition meeting

When: 6-8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Nevada Room, Carson City Senior Citizens Center, 901 Beverly Drive

Details: JoAnne Skelly, 887-2252