Yakima community fears wearing specific colors after recent homicide

Yakima community fears wearing specific colors after recent homicide

Joe Willis is the new executive director for Yakima Police Activities League an outreach program to help keep kids off the street.

His program includes things like boxing, wrestling and arts designed to help give kids in Yakima a positive outlet.

“I have the opportunity to take our organization forward and be that organization out in the front that are working with families that are working with children and bringing common ground,” said YPAL executive director Joe Willis.

Willis’s new mission, is creating a gang task force to help quell all the violence especially after 14-year-old Kabin Smith was shot and killed Monday morning over the color he was wearing.

It was Yakima’s sixth homicide in 2017

He doesn’t believe it’s fair that people should be afraid to wear any color they want.

“We really want to take our neighborhood back we don’t want people to live in fear,” said Willis.

Yakima police spokesman Mike Bastenelli said it’s not always a color that sparks violence.

“It’s a persona, what we call a gang persona it could be how that person walks, the lettering on a particular hat or a shirt,” said YPD spokesman Mike Bastinelli.

Even words that might be exchanged.

“Usually that person involved in a gang that’s wearing a particular color is going to want the world to know what side he’s on,” added Bastinelli.

The only time police believe you should be careful is when you’re in a neighborhood known for gangs or at night.

“It’s unfortunate that we have come to that in this society but there doesn’t need to be fear,” said Bastinelli.

As for Willis he’s ready to make a difference.

“We need to work together we need to build a community where we compassionately care about people,” said Joe Willis.

Police continue to investigate the shooting and are making progress.

They ask for you to call Crime Stoppers or Yakima Police with information.