Stockton residents and city leaders convened at the Arnold Rue Community Center on Monday night in response to the fatal shooting of Cesar Chavez High School student, Thai Khin, 17, during a robbery at a park near the school on April 12. This tragedy comes nearly a year after the stabbing of Stagg High School student Alycia Reynaga on April 18, 2022.
Approximately 150 people attended the town hall meeting led by Mayor Kevin Lincoln, Councilman Dan Wright, and representatives from the police department and Stockton Unified School District. The gathering aimed to address concerns about gun violence and mistrust towards city, police, and school officials.
Yesica Avendano, a teacher and parent of a Chavez student, called for transparency from the authorities: "We as the community need to know more about what's happening behind the scenes."
The murder of Thai Khin coincided with the resignation of Chavez principal Cynthia Cardenas Sanchez on April 12, which has left half of Stockton Unified's comprehensive high schools in a leadership crisis.
In the wake of Khin's death, students and teachers expressed their frustration over the prevalence of gun violence in Stockton and across the country. Ellena Bivens, an A.P. literature teacher at Chavez, described the situation as "the elephant in the room" and a "nationwide problem."
Town hall participants also discussed the need for safe spaces for young people outside of school hours. Councilman Wright acknowledged that restoring such services after the city's bankruptcy would take time.
Mayor Lincoln announced that the city has expanded outreach efforts from the Office for Violence Prevention to children as young as 12 and is pursuing a $4.3 million workforce development program for those aged 16 to 29, the age group most affected by gun violence in Stockton.