SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco city and community leaders gathered for a call for action on Monday, in the wake of three homicides involving three black women within a month's time.
"Any homicide in the city is difficult and inexcusable," said community activist Geoffrea Morris, "but when we look at the last 30 days, three women, three black women ranging from 32 to 35, this is a travesty."
Morris organized Monday morning's press conference in the Tenderloin district, where 32-year-old Emma Hunt, a mother of two was gunned down on Jan. 5. She was the city's first homicide victim of the new year.
Emma Hunt, 32, was killed Jan. 5, 2020, becoming San Francisco's first homicide victim
Her death followed that of the Dec. 19 homicide of 33-year-old Ronisha Cook. The mother of two was also fatally shot in the Tenderloin. Just a few days prior, on Dec. 14, 35-year-old Latanette McDaniel was stabbed to death in the Potrero Hill neighborhood. McDaniel was mother to seven children.
San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney was among those who attended the press conference and pointed to the disproportionate impact of violence in neighborhoods like the Tenderloin.
"This is a neighborhood that experiences too much violence, that's often treated as a containment zone. We reject that," Haney said. "Every loss of life deserves a response, deserves prevention, but we know that some communities are being impacted more than others."
He said the recent deaths of McDaniel, Cook, and Hunt, point to an epidemic that must be addressed, and must prompt the city to come together with a sense of urgency.
"What is most important is that we listen to the leaders within our community, listen to black women in our community, leaders who tell us what we should do to prevent this in the future," Haney said.
Supervisor Shamann Walton also promised swift and comprehensive community response to the violence.
"We want everyone to know that we take every violent crime seriously," Walton said, "making sure that the resources to address violence go to the areas and the neighborhoods, communities where we see it."
He said as part of that response, community policing will be made a priority.
"We're going to put the right resources on the street, more community ambassadors, more officers on foot patrol being a part of the fabric of community and not just for response but actually spending time in communities, so that our neighbors and our families know our officers and they get to be a part of the community that they serve," Walton stressed.
Community leaders also said there needs to be a focus on providing easy access to services to those who are most affected by violent crime.
California director of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, Tinisch Hollins, pointed to statistics that showed that African Americans make up roughly 13% of the total U.S. population but experience 51% of violent crime.
Hollins said that in California, one in 10 received access to victim compensation and services. "We need to be diligent about removing barriers to victims' compensation, trauma recovery services, and other things that are going to help us heal and restore our communities," Hollins said.
She also challenged the city to make access to services like domestic violence prevention, as well as social and mental health assistance a priority. "We need to prioritize those who are most harmed and least helped, most impacted and that instance we're speaking specifically about the black community and specifically about black women," she said.
Many at the community gathering pointed to the fact that the deaths of the three women left 11 children motherless.
Hollins called for the community to come together to be there for those children, whose lives have now been irrevocably altered by these acts if violence.
"I want to center on the needs of the 11 children," she said, "who are now remaining motherless, who need our support, who need us to show up, make sure that they continue to thrive and grow and heal."