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Aquil Basheer Wins California Peace Prize

October 20th, 2010 by Celeste Fremon

Tuesday night, on the kick-off night of their Violence Prevention Conference, the California Wellness Foundation
awarded their annual California Peace Prize to three remarkable people who practice “results-oriented violence prevention.” (The prize includes a $25,000 cash award for each recipient.)

The first of the three awards went to someone whose selection I cheered particularly loudly—namely Aquil Basheer who is, to quote the Wellness people, “a renowned gang intervention practitioner who uses his street experience to educate youth and professionals who regularly deal with gang violence in Los Angeles.”

More specifically, Aquil is the executive director of Maximum Force Enterprises, which also runs a Professional Community Intervention Training Institute (PCITI), in partnership with the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, was recently adopted as a model for gang intervention by the Los Angeles City Council.

He travels all over the country consulting with other cities and communities about ways that the community members can reclaim their neighborhoods from violence, while at the same time, helping high risk kids to help transform their communities by transforming themselves.

As if that weren’t enough, Aquil is a nationally known expert in threat assessment and crisis prevention, a former Black Panther, a 10th degree blackbelt listed in the Who’s Who of Martial Arts, an inspiring instructor and public speaker and….well, go read the rest of his bio. (He’s also a great dad, a devoted husband, and makes a terrific friend..)

As a side note, it is interesting to know that Aquil’s own dad was the first African American firefighter in the history of Los Angeles.

When he accepted the award, his speech turned evangelistic near the end,
as he talked about the work he and many others in the room were doing:

“Individually, we might make inroads, but collectively we cannot be stopped..” he shouted at one point, and the audience in the ballroom of the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel applauded approvingly.

Aquil was loaded with such preacherly one-liners.

“Knowledge is power, but it’s enthusiasm that flips the switch.”

“If you’ve been looking up, it’s time to get up!”

When he finished, the be-suited dinner crowd whooped and hollered, clearly happy to be there to celebrate him.

The remaining Peace awards went to two people who also seemed quite outstanding:

The first was Perla Flores, who is a passionate advocate for woman who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Her work with women from the underserved communities such as migrant women in Morgan Hill and surrounding areas has become a model for such work in many regions around the state.

She was followed by Sammy Nunez, a former gang member who did time in Folsom prison for attempted murder, but who now runs Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, a nationally known community based organization that works to turn around the lives of at-risk youth, particularly young fathers, in the Stockton area.

Violence prevention advocates and experts had flown in from all over the country to honor the three—and will remain for the remainder of the conference to discuss the thorny problems each of the honorees represent.

(More on all that tomorrow.)

NOTE: Light blogging today in that, as noted above, I’m at the Wellness Foundation Conference until Wednesday night.

More soon, as there is much to report.

Posted in Gangs, juvenile justice, Life in general | 14 Comments »

14 Responses

  1. Script Says:

    Kudos to the California Wellness Foundation for recognizing the real cause of lower crime rates, the community itself, the good and the bad, including even gang members. Glad they didn’t buckle to political correctness and give one of the awards to a cop.

  2. Answering The Question Says:

    From Real Clear Politics
    AP-GfK Poll: Signs Point to Huge Dem Losses in Two Weeks
    Thanks Rob. Thanks alot for being part of the contingency in our party that love to antagonize, disenfranchise, and be so ultra-hypocritically PC that voters are now turning to the GOP.
    THANKS A LOT. The Repubics have their right-wing zealots to alienate anybody with a moderate perspective, but we can’t take advantage of that because we have too many left-wing
    extremists like Rob. On Nov.3rd, I hope you’re happy.

  3. Sure Fire/Nikki Says:

    It’s sad that Celeste lets such a hateful bigot post here. Rob’s not only a bigot, he’s either a pathological liar or has the mental reasoning of someone living in a psych board and care.

  4. Script Says:

    I’m just expressing my appreciation of the California Wellness Foundation rewarding the real unsung heroes of our streets, the people who live there. Like I said, they could have played it real safe, gone the PC route, and threw one award to a cop, even though the police have very little to do with any kind of peace anymore. But they didn’t. Kudos to them.

  5. Sure Fire/Nikki Says:

    By the way Rob, you don’t speak for anyone in your community, that’s real apparent.

  6. Script Says:

    Well, I guess cops are a little bit smarter than what I give them credit for. Because if any cop was sitting around waiting for an award from an organization that obviously gets it, like CWF, he would have been wasting his time. This organization gives awards to people who really deserve it.

  7. Jim Ferris Says:

    CWF does get it because it gave the same award to Oakland Police Officer Jerry Williams in 1997. Don’t believe me, check here:

    Here’s more on officer Williams that may be of interest:

    In 1992, Jerry Williams was a tough undercover narcotics officer, working the Lockwood/Coliseum Gardens public housing complexes in East Oakland California, a community that had one of the top homicide rates in the nation. By his own admission, Jerry was “a very aggressive police officer” where success was measured by number of arrests. Jerry went through a personal and professional transformation when he was introduced to community policing. After an initial training, Jerry returned to Lockwood and started talking to people. I thought I would begin by asking people to call me ‘Jerry.’ I brought lollypops for the kids and stuck them in my trunk to hand out. That’s why the kids call me the Lollypop Cop. Jerry began to open himself up to the community. He talks about how he really listened “not just to people’s words, but beyond those words to the feelings. I felt like I was finally graduating from the real Police Academy and that I was becoming a ‘Peace Officer’ and not simply a ‘Police Officer.’” It took about eighteen months for the adults in the community to trust him. Together they transformed the community, which was free of homicides for eight years.

    In 1997 Jerry received the California Peace Prize Award. National and local news profiled Jerry, community policing and Lockwood/Coliseum Gardens, dubbing it the “Miracle on 65th Avenue.” The award and resulting media coverage expanded Jerry’s influence on violence prevention. He was in demand at police departments around the country, provided technical assistance to cities that wanted to replicate his form of community policing, and taught college courses on violence prevention and the role of police. For Jerry, the greatest benefit of all the attention was “the media put the community in a positive light, when it had only gotten negative publicity before.”

  8. Answering The Question Says:

    lol. Damn he’s grinding those gears looking for reverse!!!!!
    Too funny.

  9. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Jim, thanks for noting the award given to Jerry Williams. It sounds like it was well deserved.

    As for the rest, I’ve just started deleting, cold or no cold.

  10. Script Says:

    Jim, police have gotten a lot worse since 1997, and it’s obvious CWF knows that.

  11. Sure Fire/Nikki Says:

    Hell Celeste I gave you the heads up to delete mine. I do hope you feel better.

  12. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Thanks, SF.

  13. AB Says:

    Excellent assessment and on-point observations Celeste. Really appreciated you pointing out the audience in attendance had great respect for the “ground soldiers” speaking the truth and telling it for real! Glad you were there are always appreciated you telling it “no holds bared” in your blog.

    Much respects, keep up the outstanding work!

  14. AB Says:

    Excellent assessment and on-point observations Celeste. Really appreciated you pointing out the audience in attendance had great respect for the “ground soldiers” speaking the truth and telling it for real! Glad you were there are always appreciated you telling it “no holds bared” in your blog. It takes real courage to stand up and say what many individuals are afraid too, we salute you.

    Much respects, keep up the outstanding work!

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