Category Archives: violence

Speaking Up: what youth centers in West Oakland should provide

by J’Mya Gray-Martinez

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Chip Johnson blamed problems with youth centers (two open and a third about to open)  in West Oakland on lack of  staff and programs.

Journalism 1 decided to pitch in, providing insight into what should be included in local youth centers and what also needs reform.

“We should have more programs at school instead of at youth centers, because it’s easier for students to get their SAT prep,  help on their homework or class work right here.” (Abbas Hassan)

“More music, dancing, singing, college. Students are bored after school. So they need something to do. If you have these programs then the kids won’t need to do drugs or harmful things like that.” (Jaden Nixon, who transferred out of McClymonds)

“I’m happy with the programs that Oakland has to offer me. I can go to the YMCA on weekends and the Boys & Girls Club on weekdays. They have sports for you to play and they’re very safe. The programs are kind of healthy but you can get good exercise. It keeps the violence away. (Parrish Kendricks)

“Healthy living programs. Not just with eating but when it comes to relationships, violence, and interactions. I want to see programs that will affect the youth like scared straight programs. Also, I want to see more people kids can trust and rely on. Lastly, I want to see more jobs like YEP or Youth Uprising.” (Kaya LaForte)

“I would like to see fun programs. Also educational programs that will help us in the long run. For example, a program that teaches you useful things like how to write a resume, fill out a college application and things like that. I would really like to see tutoring programs also.” (Hailey King)

“We need more fine Arts and Educational Programs because there are a lot of talented kids I know around Oakland that don’t get a chance to show their true talents, and then they get caught up in gangs, drugs, and violence.” (J’Mya Gray-Martinez)

 In Oakland,  I believe we need to provide more programs during school hours so students are forced to go. (Quaylin Wesley)

There are a lot of kids in Oakland with great potential, but usually don’t get a chance to because they get caught up with things they shouldn’t be doing. Having more community programs in Oakland would help most of us be able to express ourselves in different ways.

Too many murders of youth in West Oakland: McClymonds grieving again

 

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Willie Gilbert lived in this house in West Oakland— his cousin, also a teen, was shot to death just a year ago.

 

opinion piece by Lee Benson

Students at McClymonds are once again grieving — this time for Willie Gilbert, a former student who liked to shoot hoops and was one of a handful of teens to own a car. Gilbert, who will be buried Friday, died from gunshot wounds 10 days ago at Highland Hospital, with police still trying to determine exactly where the shooting took place.

This is the second murder in 2014 of a student who attended McClymonds. In March, sophomore Denzel Jones was fatally shot in front of the Boys’ and Girls’Club on Market Street,

“It’s a shock because i just seen him not too long ago,” said senior Luckie Lovette. “He was one of the first people I met here, he was a funny dude, he would rap with me and stuff. He was a cool dude. He was a good friend of mine for some years and I’m going to miss him.”

The news of his death spread quickly on Facebook and Instagram. It hit students even harder because of the cumulative effect of the murders of friends in Oakland — including the fatal shooting of a young teenage mother by her brother.

Gilbert was a popular figure. “I knew Willie since middle school,” said Deshawn Nelson, a senior. “It’s just sad to see something like that happen and it’s a shame that he’s gone so soon. He deserved to live life just like the rest of us and someone took his life away from him.”

Lionel Hamilton, a senior at Mack, said, “I was devastated when I heard the news, I didn’t want to believe it but I saw the news and everybody was posting it on Instagram and Facebook. I’ve known him since we were little, he was like a brother to me. I was just with him the other day but it hurts me to know that I will never see him again.”

This shocked me as well. I was asleep when a friend called me with the news early Monday morning. It’s sad because I’ve known him since my freshman year; he was always a goofy person and fun to be around. It’s sad to know that I’m never going to see another one of my friends again.

These situations make you wonder who is going to be next. The entire class of 2014 is dealing with their grieving differently. Some are just letting their emotions show because they can’t help it while others just sit there and try to hold it in. The truth is that we are all hurting from the situation, especially because nobody expected it but you have to allow everyone to grieve in their own way.

“No one expected this at all,” said Lovette. “I guess what they say is true: if you look to your left and look to your right, some of ya’ll ain’t gonna make it. It feels like half my class is already gone.”

 

Why “Licks” was powerful: it’s based on a true story

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by Janaya Andrews

It was no ordinary Friday afternoon at McClymonds, as 25 students and community members talked to the Berkeley director who filmed the award-winning “Licks.”  He was with two of the actors, who both grew up in the Lower Bottoms.

The event was organized by Alternatives in Action and featured a panel on “manhood.”

“The movie shifted between humor and sadness and anger,” said freshman Dazhane Labat, who attended the event. “It had moments of redemption; like when the baby is brought to a family to save him from his drug-addicted mother.”

The movie hit home. It actually shows us  teenagers how  life is  in  Oakland and how  things work out; with the realistic scenes of places you know, and dialogue that rings true, you recognize how the  hood works.

The movie follows guy named “D”, as he moves back  to his hometown Oakland where he was charged with robbing a store and wielding a gun.

The most compelling scenes centered on personal relationships. At home with his girlfriend, she told him,”Promise me you wont hit up no more places. His response: baby, look i’m with you now and  she  expresses her doubts and warns him not to bring back his stolen merchandise.”

In his oustside life, friends become more prominent, asking him, “Are  you ready to go make hit this lick.” He answers, “Yea, man let’s go to their approval, “alright that’s my boy.”

Minutes later, they drove to a meat market and went in the store with a black masks on.  Then they  told  the  store clerk to  get on  the  floor;  they held his  head down  on  the  counter making  sure he couldn’t get  a  good  look  at  their faces.

“Licks” touched us all, because of the real hard times we face and the choices we make: the film shows, with  great compassion, that thugs have problems with money and only rob because they are trying to get money for their families.

For Jonathan Singer-Vine, a 24-year-old writer and director who was born  and  raised in Berkeley, California, “Licks” is  his  first feature film. It opened in Oakland’s Parkway Theater in November and won several awards.

He said the film was aimed at 16-year-olds because they will understand how and why the movie was made and its real message.

“Griots” project comes to McClymonds

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by Jaden Nixon

The “Griots” project made a powerful impact at McClymonds.

“It gave us insight into how Oakland teens think,” said Kaya LaForte, a freshman who saw the exhibit late last month.

“The Griots of Oakland” is the name of a book and an oral history project by five young black men who collected stories of growing up Black in Oakland in interviews with 100 Black  men aged 6 to 24. ‘Griots’ is a West-African word that means storyteller.

“It should be made for the whole school and all of Oakland to see,” said Joseph Sanford, a senior. “It makes me remember about the ‘hood, and what people don’t know about living in a different community and what we do to make it out.”

The project was launched by African American Male Achievement (AAMA), which works to empower young black males, and Alameda Health Care Services Agency created a project to allow young African American males to share their personal experiences. They worked with Story for All to recruit five young men from the ages of 14 to 18 to collect stories.

The young men were taught African American and Oakland history, as well as videography, by the non-profit.

With video cameras and 30 interview questions, the young men hit the streets, interviewed teens at school and captured on video the voices and thoughts of over 100 African American males from the ages of 6 to 24.

Interview questions ranged from “What did you eat for breakfast?” to “What is it like being a young African American man in Oakland?” The answers were sometimes alarming. While nearly 79 percent of boys under 13 said that it was good to be a young black male, 83 percent of those over 13 said that it was hard.

The exhibit at McClymonds included photos, quotes and video clips from the interviews. A book was also published.

However, for some, it is just a reminder of the ordinary. “I’ve seen people get shot. When I see this, I don’t feel anything new,” said McClymonds sophomore Billy Giddens. ” I just go on to the next day.”

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Why I miss San Francisco

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  Even the new Bay Bridge can’t compete with views from San Francisco

opinion piece by Marlena Younger

I miss the views. Stunning vistas, dotted hills, the blueness of the Bay, Ocean Beach with its limpet shells and sand dollars.

And then there’s the mobility of living in San Francisco: the buses are cheaper and it feels safer, less violent.

On a typical morning on Potrero Hill, I could jump out of bed and race down the street to Potrero Hill Neighborhood House to take a Zumba class. It’s high energy dance with samba music, Latin jazz, Cupid shuffle. Cafés like JB’s Place open in the wee hours. People mill around Safeway on 17th and Potrero street.

My neighborhood in north Oakland (ice city: “we ain’t no squares we polar bears” Mistah Fab) is less lively and more dangerous. There’s a gang injunction that limits the freedom of lots of youths and people in their 20s in your neighborhood.

My job in San Francisco was where I danced — helping people do the homework and teaching hip hop dancing. I combined strong academics — I don’t even have Spanish this year. And although the pay is the same, my after-school job in the East Bay is in San Leandro, an hour and a half from my house.

It’s fun living in north Oakland, but I also miss all of  my friends and family, and on top I miss being in the hood. I miss going everywhere and knowing everybody.

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.”

YOLO event: gummie bears as roofies warn of party dangers

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by Nicole Funes

Mock party. Juice instead of scotch. Gummie bears surreptitiously dropped into drinks, like roofies (rohyphnol, a “date rape” drug that renders victims unconscious)

Another creative YOLO event.

About two dozen students participated in the mock party Wednesday after school, organized by Youth Organizing Leadership Opportunities (YOLO).

“The kids wanted to do a party and everything we do has to have a message so we decide to do a (mock tale) party to talk about the negative effects on drugs and alcohol at a party,” said youth organizer  Kharyshi Wiginton.

“This event was a success because many people came and they were all engaged,” she added.

Take Erin Nicholson, a senior and YOLO leader. She was sipping a cup of juice and when she set it on the table, someone slipped a gummy bear in her cup. She noticed only when she got to the bottom of her drink. “The lesson was that students don’t have to go to parties to get turned up and there are other ways to have fun,” she said.

The activity was the second in a series to counter violence in West Oakland. In October, several students marched to DeFremery Park to Life is Living Festival with signs  to promote peace.

“We also planned this event to encourage people to break the cycle of drugs violence and dysfunction,” added Wiginton.