Police swarm Mission District in response to upsurge in gang violence

S.F. Examiner File Photo“The temperature is hot right now between the Hispanic gangs

Violence erupting from Mission district gang tensions has led to two memorial services for gunned-down youths in just five days and a response from city officials who say they are flooding the area with resources to cool things
down.

The Police Department has increased the number of officers and undercover cops in the streets and is making more contacts with known violent offenders. Meanwhile, The City has allocated an additional $30,000 for the Community Response Network, which reaches out to youths to calm tensions and steer kids away from gang life.

“The temperature is hot right now between the Hispanic gangs,” Police Chief Greg Suhr said Thursday of the recent violence.

Suhr joined Supervisor David Campos, whose District 9 includes the Mission, on Thursday to announce The City’s effort to prevent more bloodshed. Campos said there is a coordinated effort in place.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that we keep our community safe, and we are not going to stop working until that happens,” Campos said.

On Tuesday, a 20-year-old was shot and killed at 20th Street and South Van Ness Avenue in what Suhr described as a robbery attempt. Two suspects have been arrested and the weapon confiscated, he said. The week before, a 19-year-old man was killed and another wounded on the 2800 block of Harrison Street. On Oct. 20, another 19-year-old was fatally shot in the chest.

Police declined to identify gang affiliations related to the incidents, but the Mission has long dealt with violence associated with factions of the Norteños and Sureños.

There have been eight homicides this year in the neighborhood, compared to five at the same time last year.

Citywide, there have been 58 homicides. At the same time last year, there were 44.

Over the past five years, a peak of violence in the Mission has come in the months of September, October and November, according to Ricardo Garcia-Acosta, program director for the Community Response Network.

“It definitely correlates with school,” he said.

Garcia-Acosta said that while his group makes inroads in helping youths, as time goes on, there is always a new wave of gang members.

“Whenever there is this new flurry of young men trying to prove themselves and be a part of something, and there is no alternatives, then we’re just kind of starting all over,” he said.

The last time gang violence flared up in San Francisco was this summer, when gang-infighting erupted in Visitacion Valley, reportedly claiming seven lives.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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