Category Archives: restorative justice

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.

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.”

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.