By Motecuzoma Sanchez
July 31, 2017
Stockton, CA- In a move that can only be construed as a major shake up, Denise Manning has resigned her position as Community Engagement Coordinator in less than 2 years. This announcement, which came via social media from Manning, came as a surprise to many in the community. The lingering question remains as to why.
Manning was brought in with fanfare in 2016 along with Latosha Walden who was hired as the new manager nearly a year after the original manager, Jessica Glynn, of the OVP was fired after just two months on the job at 8 months pregnant, triggering a discrimination lawsuit against the City.
In her time as Community Engagement Coordinator, Manning became the public face of the OVP, setting up community meetings, attending Measure A oversight meetings, and creating a young women mentorship program. Her efforts carried the weight of the OVP and the Measure A oversight committee recognized that by recommending additional funding to support her efforts as an anti-violence action.
Her suden resignation came prior to those funds being approved and amidst rumors of internal turmoil with the OVP under the lack luster, and at times ill prepared, leadership of Walden including the overwhelming appearance that Walden as the manager of the OVP was not in charge,but being directed by assistant city manager Christian Clegg whom Glynn’s lawsuit targeted for discrimination.
Allegations of turmoil, pay disputes, discrimination in promotion opportunities, and complaints filed against management among Peacekeepers, the workhorse component of Ceasefire and the OVP, have also been a constant backdrop to the office and its mission. A mission after three years in operation is not producing the desired results. Since the creation of the OVP and implementation Ceasefire, which it is tasked with managing via the Peacekeepers as funded by Measure A, the trend of violent crime in stockton has actually increased significantly over the last three years.
Manning alluded to this concern in her resignation statement:
“OVP doesn’t have a strategic plan for violence. I don’t want to bash anyone but although I’m leaving to make a larger impact I do have growing concerns about the growing crime rate and lack of Violence Prevention plan for the community. I also have concerns about the lack of support for the programs implemented. Measure A recommended $125,000 in an effort to assist me with preventing violence with our youth however the steady focus for OVP is ceasefire.”
In regards to those programs and mayor Tubbs’ controversial proposal to pay $1,000 monthly stipends to suspected shooters in the community not to shoot people she says:
“Until there is an audit on the funds allocated for violence prevention (requested by measure A) & of the effectiveness of the ceasefire program & other programs in place or lack thereof & until the office of violence prevention manager can inform the stockton community of the violence prevention plan in place to prevent violence & answer the questions presented by the Measure A committee & community citizens, I’m strongly against paying anybody anything and more in support of paying for the resources high risk individuals may need on a case by case basis.”
Manning says her focus now will be her retail store and mentorship non-profit for young at-risk women in Stockton with a focus on restorative justice; something she did not feel was being impacted by the city’s “Marshal plan”, Ceasefire, Peacekeepers, or Office of Violence Prevention.