by Stephen Vance
McClymonds students will help lead a march against violence Friday, after participating with several other schools in a 71-day fast-relay.
The march comes after two more students from McClymonds died last week, one in a shooting in East Oakland and the other after an epilepsy seizure in juvenile hall.
The fasting and march were in reaction to the shootings of a toddler in West Oakland and a 3-year-old in East Oakland.
“Now that babies are getting killed,” said Mack senior Eric Gant about the shootings of Hiram Lawrence and Carlos Nava, “you really have to stop it.”
Gant fasted 24 hours and will address Mayor Jean Quan and members of the city council and school board who attend the rally after the march. “We want to make sure they follow through and that this issue doesn’t get overlooked.”
Close to 200 youth and their supporters started the community “Peace Pledge,” to show their commitment to peace-building and addressing the violence in our communities.
The campaign was launched on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Life Academy in East Oakland by youth leaders in Alternatives in Action’s Be A Man (BAM) and Real Ambitious Women (RAW) groups. Since January, students from McClymonds, United for Success Academy and Bay Area School of Enterprise in Alameda joined the campaign to draw attention to the unprecedented number of children killed in Oakland over the last few months.
Marchers will include also students from the Urban Peace Movement, Skyline High School and others.
They began a collective fast beginning at 1 p.m. today that will end at a ceremony Friday. A “March to Build Peace,” gathers Friday at 9 a.m. in front of Life Academy in Oakland (2101 35th Avenue) and ends at Peralta Hacienda Historical Park (2465 34th Avenue, Oakland) with the fast-breaking ceremony and feast that begins at 11 a.m.
The youth groups will dedicate their “Peace Pledge” to families of victims of violence and urge city leaders to partner with them to address this issue.
“It’s bad enough when students don’t make it to the age of 16,” says Gant, “but it’s tragic and intolerable when babies are killed before they even get to kindergarden.”