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June 25, 2008 > Teen's death may not be in vain

Teen's death may not be in vain

By Maureen Garrett
Photos By courtesy of Karen Yifru

June 23, 2008 will be the one year anniversary of Biniam Yifru's death. Yifru was fatally shot at a Union City party last summer, just hours after he graduated from high school. A month later, his heartbroken mother, Karen Yifru and Congregations Organizing for Renewal spearheaded the Youth Violence Prevention Coalition. "I wish I would have started five years ago...Biniam might still be here" Yifru said.

After the deaths of Jesus Cruz, 21 and Vernon Eddins, 14, last year in Union City, the group gained momentum and demanded that Union City officials do something about violence in the city. Backed by concerned parents and students, the group's extensive research and consistency eventually paid off. City Council members agreed to put the issue on the ballot and add language making the extra funds available for the youth intervention program.

Unfortunately, Measure K, the ballot measure aimed to help the city pay for the police and fire departments, emergency preparedness and youth violence intervention and prevention failed at the recent elections.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting the measure had 62 percent 'yes' and 38 percent 'no' votes - which means it did not reach the two-thirds' voter approval needed to pass.

The Public Safety Services Tax Extension would have raised about $4.6 million a year, about $2 million more than the previous tax in 2004.

"The campaign was not based on scare tactics but on realism," Mark Mayor Green said.
The city still plans to bring another initiative back to the November ballot.

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