Category Archives: curfew

I’ll just watch the movie “Prom” on prom night

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by Luckie Lovette

Prom is a few weeks away, and everyone is getting ready for it.  Except for me.

Prom is one of those school events that everyone says they don’t care about but secretly do.  For me, even if I wanted to, I can’t go.  Tickets, transportation and tuxedos exceed far more than the $100 advised to spend in the once in a lifetime night.

On top of that, being a guy, I’m supposed buy my prom date’s ticket and pay for dinner.  Realistically, we would ride AC Transit to a Denny’s and split an order of nachos, but that doesn’t sound as luxurious as the movies make it seem.

I’ll just stay at home and watch the movie “Prom” on prom night.

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.”

Am I Next? Mack students react to verdict and “Fruitvale Station”

ImageInterviews and Photo Luckie Lovette

 

By Anthony Beron

 “I don’t trust the police and we don’t need them on our streets,” said McClymonds High School senior Garland Rabon after watching the screening of Fruitvale Station.

His mood — distrust, disappointment, anger — also reflected his reaction to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed Trayvon Martin, 17, a young black man in a hoodie just “walking while Black” like so many students at McClymonds.

The movie also hit home because much of it takes place along several BART stations, just a few miles from school, where so many students of color hop on a train  across the Bay Area.

Fruitvale Station, a dramatic film focused on Oscar Grant’s last days before his 2009 shooting death, premiered last week, coinciding with the Zimmerman verdict: it struck the audience so hard that men and women alike cried in the Grand Lake Theater’s lobby.

At the screening I attended, there were violent shouting and people weeping in the audience, followed by sudden laughter at the tender scene in which Grant kisses his daughter goodbye as she trots off to daycare, then another wave of extreme disgust when Grant was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital.

Between the syncopation of the music, real-life video recorded at the scene, and Michael Jordan’s fine performance, showing the vulnerability, warmth and brashness of Oscar Grant, the film got the message through clearly: his death was a consequence not of his own flaws, but of racial profiling.

It could have been any African-American young man. With that awareness, “Am I Next?” became the slogan that replaced “We Are All Trayvon.”

The audience remained focused even as the film alternated between urging irony and beating vacillation.

Many felt it accurately portrayed Oscar Grant, African-American youth, American racism, and especially police brutality in Oakland, as there was a strong emphasis on the crudeness of BART police in Fruitvale Station during the shooting of Oscar Grant.

“People will be more aware of racism,” said Jeremy Namkung, a McClymonds High School PE teacher.  He continued, “Small changes will be made in a long period of time.”

Johannes Mehserle, Oscar Grant’s killer, appeared sinewy and lorded over the entire Fruitvale BART station, where he repeatedly Jiu Jitsu-flipped bystanders and friends of Oscar Grant who were merely in his way, emulating the gestures of an almost a spazzed-out, reckless Robocop vigilante.

That power felt palpable to the audience.

“I have mixed feelings on cops: they are necessary but they have too much power and abuse it,” said Namkung, who also said he feels safe on BART.

In the movie, Mehserle was one of several first-responders who were alerted of a fight on a BART train.

Grant and several of his companions were a part of the fight between him and a white supremacist, ex-con he knew from prison.  At that point, the clarity of the film’s audio and screen resolution began fading in and out, effectively illustrating the chaotic milieu that ensconced Grant, who only wanted to enjoy time with his friends and family.

Him and his friends were later removed from their train car, where they were called racial slurs and handcuffed by BART personnel.  Grant, who was apparently trying to calm his friends, was kicked down and shot by Mehserle on BART grounds.  His train was directed to continue towards Pittsburg, without having any witnesses taken off.

In the theater lobby, the Zimmerman verdict strained the atmosphere as people in the Grand Lake Theater’s foyer reacted with rage and tears. “I can’t believe this,” one woman sobbed.  The reaction — emotional, angry but not surprised — echoed the same acrimony that people felt after the Mehserle verdict.

Shortly after the premier of Fruitvale Station, West Oakland students joined a bicycle ride for peace. At Lake Merritt, they held a silent vigil for Trayvon Martin. And this weekend, they marched with signs that expressed everyone’s fear: “Am I Next?

“It needs to be peace,” replied Christopher Lockett, a Mack freshman.  “People need to stop killing each other for gun play.”

Macksmack writers win state high school journalism awards

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Miles Mitchell wins 2nd place in environmental reporting for story on McClymonds garden

Two McClymonds students, senior Romanalyn Inocencio and sophomore Miles Mitchell, have won journalism awards from the California Press Women’s Association.

Mitchell won second place in environmental reporting for a story about the vegetable garden at McClymonds, which appeared in macksmack blog on June 11 2012.

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Romanalyn Inocencio (second from left at a journalism workshop at the Sacremento Bee last fall) wins 3rd place in two highly-contested categories: news and opinion

Inocencio, a senior, won third place in news for a story on changes (new teachers, restorative justice  and added AP classes) at McClymonds that was published in Oaktown Teen Times in January.

She also won third place in opinion for a piece opposing a teen curfew in Oakland.

When Young Actors Tell Their Real Stories On Stage

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photographs by Breannie Robinson

by  Breannie Robinson

“This is my real life,” said actress Deanne Palaganas, a 25-year-old who plays a Filipino mother who is arrested by police and jailed for not having her papers.

The actress talks about the prejudice she encounters, the judgments of people not accepting her because she has no papers even though she pays taxes.

Palaganas portrays an immigrant and single mother from the Phillipines in Gary Soto’s newest play, Living In and Out of Shadows, which played last month at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco.

To write his play, Soto read through the harrowing experiences of immigrant teenagers, gathered through interviews conducted by the Marsh Youth Theatre actors, living in Richmond and Pinole, and wove them together in an intricate compilation of stories and songs.

Palaganas herself was an undocumented teen, forced to live in secrecy even while attending college.

Like Palaganas, many of the actors were telling their own stories on stage. Others were portraying people they had interviewed.

The play refrains from stereotyping the immigrant look and experience.  Soto said his biggest fear was not including enough ethnicities, which is why he added a Chinese teen and added the stories of several of the Marsh Youth Theater’s undocumented actors from Canada, the Phillipines, and Mexico.

This is most noticeable when a young Chinese girl addresses the point, saying “they think only Mexicans and Latinos know the way [across the border] but we Chinese know the route, too. ” In the play, her Chinese family takes a plane ride to Peru, travels from Peru to Mexico and then crosses the Mexican-US border illegally.

Several of the interviews with Marsh Youth Theatre actors made it into the play, including a story from a young man who migrated to the U.S. illegally but told Soto,  “because I’m white, they don’t bother me.”  An Indonesian girl found it frustrating to have people refer to her as Chinese or Mexican.

Besides adding cultural diversity,  Soto made sure to include real details: for instance, a young boy had to re-cross the Mexican-American border through an underground sewer pipeline after he was caught by ICE the first time when trying to cross through the desert with his uncle.

Palaganas said her character reminded her much of her own mother, loud and passionate, outspoken and prone to alternating between rapid or soft Tagalog but never a mixture. “For many of us, this is our story,” she said.

“I’m allowed to stay here because Obama let me,” said Palaganas.”Not many Filipinos are open.  They train their kids to maintain their reputation, to say they have papers,” said Palaganas.

“To them [American-born] we are aliens,” said Palaganas.  She criticized the U.S. government for accepting taxes from undocumented immigrants, but refusing to acknowledge their contribution or pay any benefits. As for undocumented parents, “They tell us we have to act normal, act American,” said Palaganas, who was accepted to UC Irvine and San Francisco State but could not get a scholarship because she was undocumented.

“You just try to live your life normally and don’t tell nobody your status,” says Louel Senores, who plays Felix, the articulate, dancing, rapping Filipino high school student and activist in In and Out of Shadows.

Senores’ story is a bit different: he received his papers in 8th grade. He was able to attend UC Berkeley from which he graduated with a degree in engineering  For him, the challenge was professional: how to portray a jock when he was trained as a ballet dancer.

Although not in the script, he added his own line about being gay because he wanted to include LGBT in the production, as they are among undocumented youth.

“Filipinos from the islands are more conservative, they are not very open to homosexuality,” said Senores. 

After spending time with undocumented cast members, Senores feels fortunate. “I am an immigrant but I got my papers.  I didn’t think of it.  I didn’t realize they had it that hard.  That’s some f***ed up shit,” he added

“It was just a role but it makes you care,” said Senores. “As soon as you know someone who is going through that,  you care.”

First Friday fatality: will it discourage Mack students?

Arrested

 

photo copyright by Oakland North

by Anthony Beron

As Mack freshman  Desiree Gamble  embarked on an exciting stroll and party night at First Friday, trotting off the AC Transit bus near Telegraph, it seemed to be a normal, festive night. The music was loud and the street vendors, out en masse, were selling a variety of hats, T-shirts and CDs.

But within minutes, the seemingly smooth and charismatic night went haywire. A confrontation on Telegraph and 20th led to the fatal shooting of Oakland high school student Kiante Campbell, 18. Three people were left wounded and many, including students at McClymonds, were emotionally distraught.

“After I had got off the bus, I heard the sound of gun shots coming from Art Murmur; then I went home right afterwards,” Gamble said. Others ran, too.

As a result of the shooting and bad publicity for the event and for Oakland, the city is planning to reign in the festivities  on March 1, the next First Friday. Neon green shirts with “Respect My City”  will be sold and given away to teens who sign a peace pledge, in an anti-violence campaign.

Will McClymonds students flock to First Friday after the violence? “I’m definitely going again,” said sophomore William Gray, who was at 17th and Broadway leaving Youth Radio before the shooting.

“We go to talk to girls,” he said, describing the scene as friendly, where East Oakland teens can meet West Oakland teens in what is usually a ‘neutral’ environment.

“Downtown is usually a neutral area because nobody owns it,” he said, “except the Oakland police.”

On March 1, the focus will be on art and healing, with a moment of silence in memory of Campbell. Fewer city blocks will be closed to traffic and there will be more security and no public drinking allowed, Sean Maher, mayor Jean Quan’s communications manager told reporters after a meeting. “It’s going to be a smaller and more low key event.” The event usually attracts about 10,000 to 15,000 people and has been a boon to Oakland’s economy.

The idea of adding police for an event like First Friday has angered some community leaders, who criticized the idea of taking police away from neighborhoods, where people also need protection and security. 

A memorial service was held for Campbell on Febuary 7.  Donald Parks, 19, was charged with six counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm and one count each of carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a loaded firearm.

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.