Category Archives: 100 block initiative

McClymonds sophomore is fatally shot in front of Boys and Girls Club

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The wall at the Boys and Girls Club on Market and 24th Street commemorates Denzel Jones.

photo and story by Anthony Beron

McClymonds high school students were shocked by the shooting in front of the Boys and Girls Club on Market and 24th Streets Saturday night, in which McClymonds sophomore Denzel Jones, 15, was killed along with a 35-year-old man.

“It’s a dangerous corner,” said freshman Jasmine Vilchis. “It makes me think about safety and worry about the killers, still on the loose.”

Vilchis was within earshot of the shooting, and recalls gunshots “ringing in the night, leaving everything silent.”

Spanish teacher Elsa Ochoa described him as having a lot of friends and as a student who presented a reserved resonance. “We’ve lost another youth to violence in Oakland.”

Several grief counselors were available Monday to help students sort out their emotions.

His family asked the public Sunday to help find the gunman who killed him. Police told reporters they have no suspects and no motive yet.

Jones, nicknamed “Beans,” had only attended McClymonds since winter break. He had transferred from Oakland High School and said he most enjoyed math. His sister, Sharda Macon, a psychology major at Laney College,  told KTVU, “We just really need a lot of support right now. It’s hard losing a kid. He’s just a baby.”

Debate coach and journalism assistant Pamela Tapia saw him as a student full of potential and fraught with academic talent, and as someone with a strong work ethic.

“He was genuine, intelligent and mindful. It’s so horrible that he had so much talent that wasn’t harvested; he always turned in the best work and was one of the best students I’ve had.”

In front of the Boys and Girls Club, bystanders stopped to sign two enormous posters and light candles. A huge teddybear and red and white balloons — his favorite colors — also were placed nearby.

“He was hecka quiet,” said freshman Nicole Funes. “He looked smart,  like he was capable of doing good work.”

Why the second amendment offers me no protection

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by Nicole Funes

Just a year ago, a 16-year-old African American teen from Stockton lay on the ground, shot , just a few steps from my house. It took hours for an ambulance to come — shocking even for neighbors immune to the violence in West Oakland. Would this happen in Montclair or Rockridge?

More than 21 children have been shot and killed in Oakland since 2011, all of them in the poorer neighborhoods, according to the San Jose Mercury-News.

Just last week, riding on the bus, I witnessed a 16-year-old Oakland High student get into a fight with a girl, who wouldn’t refused to move backpack from the seat. “I get mad too fast. I got anger management problems,” he yelled at the girl, who refused to budge. “I’ll shoot everyone on the bus,” he said, clicking his gun.

By the next stop, I was off the bus. As were seven other passengers. “Smart move,” an older woman told me after I exited the bus.

But this is my reality. The threat of violence haunts me. Every bus ride feels like a risky adventure, during which I’m far more alert than during my school’s fire drill.

The dangers of gun use make me question the validity of the Second Amendment. How does it protect me to have guns of all sorts readily available in Oakland?

My peers are divided on the issue of gun control. “I feel good about guns, if they’re registered,” said Tyrone Spivey, a senior at McClymonds. “If someone comes into my house, even if my gun’s unregistered, “Pop, Pop.” It’s going down.”

“It ‘s too much black on black violence,” said Travon Godfrey, a 10th grader at McClymonds.  “Too many kids are finding it easy to get guns and taking {other}teens’ lives.”

The Horror of 9/11: Do you Remember?

by Lee Benson

The 12th anniversary of 9/11  passed like a normal day for McClymonds students: no teacher mentioned it; lunch was hamburger and fries; most kids didn’t even remember it.

Yes, 9/11 was a horrible day for the United States. It started off as any other day, however at around 8:45am EST September 11, 2001 there were reports that terrorists had hijacked a commercial aircraft full of people. But most Mack students were still in diapers.

I interviewed several students at McClymonds High to see how they felt about 9/11.  Virtually no-one at school remembers this day as a day that will live in infamy from then on to this point and forevermore… instead just as a typical day.  “I had just got picked up from school and went to my babysitter’s house and watched it happen,” said Brandon Martin, Mack’s  back-up varsity quarterback. “None of my teachers mentioned the fact that today was the anniversary of the attack.”

Although the memories aren’t clear, most students remember the event. Jacob Miles, a senior, recalls,”I was still in elementary school in the counselor’s office when it happened and they were all talking about it.”

For some, it was a shocker. Deshawn Nelson, also a senior,  says,” I was at Martin Luther King Elementary School and I was playing basketball. I was shocked that none of my teachers told us that it was 9/11 today, not even a history teacher.”

“I was asleep when the attack happened, I was still a little kid,” recalls Kendall Page, a senior. “But today, my teachers didn’t tell me it was 9/11, they just showed us the date on the board like every other day.”

Taivion Foster also hardly noticed.  “I was playing my Xbox and I didn’t really know what was going on, and my teachers didn’t tell me that it was 9/11 today,” he said.

Lavon Washington said, ” He didn’t remember anything because he was too little and his teachers didn’t mention that it was 9/11 today.”

In my opinion, I feel like nobody remembered about today because there is way too much violence out here in Oakland to be thinking about tragic events that occurred over a decade ago on the East Coast. We all try to survive each and every day.

Pass the Peace: Why I Embrace Non-Violence

Shamarray Ross, incoming freshman at McClymonds, gathers peace pledges in preparation od Saturday's event

Shamarray Ross, incoming freshman at McClymonds, gathers peace pledges in preparation of Saturday’s event

by Jonae Scott

I have experienced violence and force first-hand in West Oakland, a community in which my roots run deep. I’ve been shot (two years ago during a peaceful vigil for an older friend who was gunned down) and in April, my parents were arrested, and then released, during the raid of the Acorn housing project.

It was traumatic to have federal agents burst into my apartment with guns, assault rifles and flash bang grenades, handcuff my parents and brother, and throw my family’s possessions around.

Because of these experiences, I need to be involved, even to lead any activity to bring peace to West Oakland. The “Pass the Peace” event this Saturday will mark the first time I take action myself. It was time.

It’s important for youth to let their voices be heard. Take Shamarray Ross, a freshman at McClymonds. She says, “It’s time for youth to make it better. Nobody else is.”

And she’s right.

We are making peace pledges at the event at McClymonds this Saturday from 12:30pm to 4:30pm. Sponsored by the Alliance Recycling, the event is called “the Spirit of West Oakland” because we want everyone in the community to join us.

Like my peers, I was distressed to read The San Francisco Chronicle story, that noted that since 2002, the number of African-American men killed on the streets of Oakland nearly matched the number who graduated from public high schools ready to attend a state university.

So distressed that I’m taking action. I demand an end to gun violence in my community.

School’s out, but Mack students still angry over Trayvon Martin

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McClymonds students (left to right Jacob Miles, Lee Benson and Anthony Beron) take part in National Hoodie Day in support of Trayvon Martin.

by Anthony Beron

School’s out, but McClymonds students are closely following the Trayvon Martin trial, now in jury selection.

Several students, including juniors Jacob Miles and Lee Benson, took part in a National Hoodie Day, in support of the 17-year-old Florida high school who was murdered after buying Skittles and Arizona iced tea inside a gated complex in Sanford, Florida.

“I feel that what the man (George Zimmerman) did was out of pocket and the court should give him (Trayvon Martin) justice at least,” says Jacob Miles, a junior.

Zimmerman argued that he was in imminent danger of being attacked by Martin, who was at the time unarmed and pleading for his life, according to CNN.

“I’m angry.  After all, this is just another example of how Black and Latino youth are targeted because of their skin color,” said Rafael (who would not give his last name), a Hispanic male in his 20’s from East Oakland, who was the apparent organizer of the rally.  Rafael added, “We need a revolution!”

“I think George Zimmerman should serve a long sentence in jail, because he killed an innocent person.  It was racial profiling: he just killed Trayvon since he was an African-American male, wearing a hoodie, just walking around,” argued Kardel Howard, a sophomore.

Zimmerman claimed to have been attacked by Martin before shooting him, and later took photos of himself with a broken nose and several cuts and bruises.  The slug of the fatal round Zimmerman fired at Martin was lodged in the teen’s left chest before  paramedics arrived and attempted CPR on him.  Martin was later pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.

Zimmerman’s defense team allegedly tried to form a jury with the least number of minorities as possible.  They denied the allegating: “Absolutely not, but if there isn’t a black juror, that doesn’t mean anything either. It just means that we chose the best people based on their answers to their questions,” according to the New York Daily News.

“I feel like it’s not fair to choose people that are not minorities who can’t relate as much to Martin,”  said Howard. “With more minority jurors, they can relate to racism and oppression better; it should be more balanced.”

Bloody month of June: too much violence in Oakland

The crazed man who has yet to be found is seen standing over one of his victims as he continues to fire off shots before turning on the young man below him.

by Jacob Miles

opinion piece

No teenager can feel safe in Oakland nowadays.

Just a few days after McClymonds dropout and homicide victim Darvel McGillberry was buried, violence erupted again in Oakland. Another teen was killed: 17-year-old David Manson Jr. in front of a store in  East Oakland during the daytime.

A second shooting occurred at a sideshow frequented by high school students.

A third incident — a triple shooting– took place outside a downtown nightclub which McClymonds students have frequented.

“In front of a store, at a sideshow, in front of a nightclub, no place is safe,” said Desire Combs, a senior at McClymonds.   “I think this is ridiculous: we should be able to feel safe everywhere in  our own city,” she said.

That’s not the case in Oakland, where the violence is on the rise. In just one weekend, one person was killed, 11 wounded in seven separate shootings capped by the triple shooting outside a downtown nightclub, police  said.

That incident took place in heavily patrolled, gang-neutral, downtown area, when a gunman opened fire on a group of people outside The Shadow nightclub at 13th and Webster. Two women and a security guard suffered non-life threatening wounds and the gunman remained at large, police said.

Lee Benson, a junior at McClymonds, said that he’s been to The Shadow a few times and always had a premonition that something bad might happen in that area. “A lot of the wrong people end up there,” he added.

This week, teens left flowers, candles and  you’ll-be-missed cards at the 9100 block on International Boulevard, where David Manson Jr. was killed about 1:45 p.m. Sunday. He was Oakland’s 43rd homicide victim this year.

Students at McClymonds who live in East Oakland knew Manson, who attended Oakland High School in June 2011.

“David was cool and it’s real sad how they shot him like that in daylight; he didn’t do nothing to nobody,” said Monte Smith, a junior.

What has been the police response? A vow to crack down on sideshows. What about community outreach, more activities for youths, such as new libraries and also community recreational places to hang out at.

Unless politicians and police develop a real plan, this is the start of a very bloody summer.

Oakland police raids the notorious Acorn Projects

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opinion piece 

  by Jacob Miles

They use the word “notorious” to describe the projects near McClymonds, where many of us live.

It’s more gang-controlled than police-patrolled, but it’s home.

This week, when police targeted a gang operating out of Acorn, there was a mixture of relief and hatred. People are always mixed about Oakland police.

A massive raid, in which about 300 law enforcement officers took part,  resulted in the arrest of five suspects on gun and drug charges, Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan told reporters last week.

Oakland police Lt. Tony Jones said 150 FBI agents, 120 Oakland police officers and several dozen officers from San Leandro, Hayward and Antioch served 16 narcotics and weapons warrants.

Jones said officers were hoping to arrest more suspects and seize more military-style weapons but some of the people they were looking for at the Acorn complex, which is between Seventh and 10th streets near Adeline Street, saw officers coming and were able to get away.

This is not unusual. The perps can see the police coming just like in New Jack City. From the 9th floor, you can see the police and alert your posse to fan out through the walk-throughs and passageways.

“They have more control inside the projects because they’re in a secure area as  opposed to other hoods being on the corner in the open,” said Walter Nathaniel, a freshman and also a Acorn resident.

The gang was involved in many shootings and other acts of violence, both in West Oakland near its turf and across town in East Oakland.

 “People in the hood don’t care about police and they still do what they want to do. It won’t stop anyone from getting their money or violence to end,” said Anton Smith, 17, an Acorn resident who goes to school in San Leandro.

“The investigations will continue and more arrests are coming,” Jones vowed.

Gang Violence Rages Through the East, Affects Mack

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OPINION

by Jacob Miles

Somehow, violence in the East always spills over into West Oakland.

March was an awful month. In East Oakland, another life was claimed over so little: a dispute over the theft of $200 worth of marijuana  prompted two shootings at an East Oakland house Sunday morning that left one man dead, another wounded and a lengthy standoff with police before the suspected gunman was arrested.

In the following days, two teenagers, whose names were not released by Oakland Police, were  shot on separate occasions : one teen, near Fremont High, running to football practice, was shot randomly. The other victim was a 13-year old boy who was on his way to school, also shot by accident.

The violence wears us down. “I feel sad because I have a friend and when he was 13-years old he was shot and it still traumatized him to this day. Also it is scandalous how some one could shoot an innocent 13-year old boy,” said  Janaya Andrews, a freshman.

East Oakland lives up to its acquired nickname: “little Iraq.” Residents caught in the cross fire lose their lives to gang wars.  Mayor Jean Quan promises that the violence will start to decrease in Oakland but the death toll keeps mounting.

That violence touches us all. “I feel safe, sometimes, but when going from West Oakland to East Oakland I never know what is going to happen because something can pop-off at any time so I just wait to hear or see something.” Khristan Antoine, junior, explains.

 The borders between East and West, between more dangerous and less  dangerous, between “them”:and “us” seem fluid and ill-defined. “Students shouldn’t have to worry about their lives and worry about which parts of Oakland they should go and which ones shouldn’t be crossed,” said Franklin Hysten, senior director of community programs for Alternatives In Action at McClymonds.

Some students are taking steps to counter the wave of violence in Oakland.

“Our action to this rise in crime in our city will start with our Chicago Peace Pledges, followed by our Peace Talk on May 15, and our Peace fest on June 8. We will release more information on those actions later,” said Kharyshi Wiginton, youth leadership coordinator of Youth Organizing & Leadership Opportunities.

West Oakland has had its share of recent shootings, but the most controversial took place downtown: an Oakland police officer shot McClymonds freshman, Frenswa Raynor, 16,  innocent, and unarmed, mistaken for a suspect in an earlier robbery at Le Cheval restaurant.

“Hopefully, we can get answers to why these murders and shootings keep occurring and what we can do to prevent them from happening to our students,” said Harold Pearson, executive director of Student  Program for   Academic and Athletic Transitioning.

Tougher Gun Laws Now: Stop the Violence

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by Sana Saeed

About a week or two ago, my mom had a close friend whose only child died. She was so depressed and her child was only 18 years old. He was going home after a party when he got shot near his own house. His mother said that he was a good boy and innocent.

Guns were once meant to protect  but now all they do is take away innocent lives.  The Newtown Massacre, Taft High School Shooting, Colorado Theater Massacre,  the list goes on…

Violent and often mentally unstable people, aided by weapons obtained legally or illegally, kill others over a stare, religion, physical appearance, or for no reason whatsoever. Instead of getting into fist fights, they have upgraded to gun fights or shoot outs. During gun wars, innocent people can simply be on the streets, walking: Hiram Lawrence would vouch  for that.

Everyone should care about enacting tougher gun control laws. Why? Because you never know who might get killed next. It could be you or someone you love. Gun control is never an issue until someone you know gets killed.

When a tragedy hits home, in a small, “safe” community in Connecticut, everyone starts talking about working together to make a positive, loving, safe community for all of us. Even the president.

As the days and years go by, these massacres are taking more and more lives and leaving behind scars that may never heal.   As a 15-year-old, I have witnessed many deaths and shoot outs over stupid reasons. That is why I care so much that a person only acquire a gun legally, with a license and through tough licensing procedures.

Most of the authors of the mass shootings and massacres are mentally unstable (Newtown) or  gang rivals (Oakland, or so says the police chief).  It shouldn’t matter if 20 kids die in one day or if one single  kid is murdered in front of his house.  Lives are lost and will never be returned.

Or maybe the problem is that obtaining a gun permit is too easy.  In fact, most of the mass shootings in 2012 were made by legally obtained ammunition and weapons, some including high caliber rifles.

On December 14, mentally ill Adam Lanza drove to school in Newtown, Connecticut, and shot and killed  20 children ( 12 girls and 8 boys between the ages of 6 and 7) plus six adults, his mother and himself.

The mentally ill shouldn’t roam the streets: they need constant medical attention  and should not be free to practice shooting at a rifle range, to buy weapons and to target their victims. Put them on a short leash, please.

Don’t let just anyone take advantage of the second amendment (the right to bear arms). It’s just another excuse to own a gun and to kill.

Why Oakland Shouldn’t Impose A Youth Curfew

 

 

by Romanalyn Inocencio

It’s late at night.  I’m stumbling to the bus stop after an exhausting basketball practice with my fellow Lady Warriors.  My feet ache, arms pulsate, and hunger sets in, making my guts screech.  I need to eat.  If I catch the bus on time, I might make it to Taco Bell before it closes. But will I be able to make it back home?

The public relations stunt supported by Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan would make THAT impossible.  And that’s why the youth curfew introduced last year (but not yet approved) would be a bad idea.

I don’t think the police will punish teenagers who live in the Oakland hills–I don’t even think they will stop them. They will only stop teens in areas like West, East, and even North Oakland.  Due to the stereotype of being black or brown–any color actually–and being after hours, that person is automatically viewed as a criminal.  But not the puny, sheltered white kid from the hills coming home from playing the violin with the Oakland Youth Orchestra.  He’s safe from being searched or stopped.

What if I, a varsity basketball player with a 3.5GPA,  ready to graduate,  have a late game and I need to walk home? Is the police going to arrest me for coming from a game? They might, when they see me walking down the street with a bag strapped across my shoulders and baggy shorts.

If the purpose of this curfew is to reduce crime rates among youth, then adults should be targeted as well.  Adults are the master minds in all these situations when they supply teenagers with weapons and often with dope.

We don’t have enough police to patrol teenagers in case of a curfew and who will keep the center (where they are held) open all night?  I don’t think Oakland has enough money for that, and if we do, then it should be used for something that won’t criminalize innocent teens who make their way home after hours.

The curfew will corral teens and cage them inside their homes.  Besides it’s not like criminals would follow the law and stay indoors after hours and become respectable citizens.  They will  just become more sneaky and move their business indoors.

I think police should focus on making sure that teens are not skipping class during the day and making sure they are where they need to be. Day time is not much different from the night.  Fights, shootings, and murders (many of the 100-plus in Oakland) occur during daylight. Let’s focus on keeping our schools safe, first.