Tag Archives: gangs

McClymonds students grieve, again


file photo of house belonging to the family of Darvel McGillberry

By Lee Benson

McClymonds students are still reeling from two separate murders of teens in Oakland. Many sought grief counseling at school this week after the homicides of a McClymonds drop-out and of a well-liked basketball player from a rival school.

The 17-year-old high school basketball player, identified as Olajuwon Clayborn, was fatally wounded in a double shooting Sunday night in East Oakland, police said. Nicknamed “Tutu,” he was remembered as a great basketball player and popular student by McClymonds basketball players.

Denzel Bellot, a senior, said, “He was a good friend, and he was like a brother to me”.

The shooting took place near his home at about 10 p.m. Sunday in the 8600 block of Dowling Street.

Police said Clayborn and a 22-year-old Oakland man were standing on the sidewalk when someone approached them on foot and shot them both. The gunman fled on foot.

Another person at the scene drove Clayborn to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:26 p.m. The man injured in the shooting was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was treated and released.Police said they don’t have a motive, and no arrests have been made.

Clayborn was a senior at Castlemont High School who transferred from Berkeley High this year, said Oakland Unified School District Spokesman Troy Flint. Flint also said Clayborn played on the basketball team.

A few hours earlier, a 19-year-old man fatally shot about 6:30 p.m. Sunday inside a house in the 2900 block of West Street in West Oakland. He was identified as former McClymonds student Darvel McGillberry, 19, of Oakland. It was not clear if he lived in the house or nearby.

Police found McGillberry after neighbors reported gunfire. He died later at a hospital. Police don’t have a motive for the killing and no arrests have been made. Officer Leo Sanchez said police believe there were people with McGillberry inside the house when he was shot, but that they left before police arrived.

The murders shocked Mack students. “This madness needs to stop,” said Luckie Lovette, a junior. He added, “Young black males are getting killed left and right, day and night, which is just awful.”

Lovette said he saw grief counselor Charles Washington to talk about his reactions to the two murders. “It’s just one after the other, over and over.”

Oakland police raids the notorious Acorn Projects


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.

Violence, Curfew, and the Future of Mack: Students Lead Forum With West Oakland Candidates

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photos by Breannie Robinson

by Selena Williams

Move over, Hofstra University. You have competition in hosting debates: students at McClymonds High School ran their school’s  first Election Candidates Forum last Thursday.

About 60 people attended the forum, including first-time voters like senior Carlos Valladares. “I sense that all  these candidates want to make West Oakland a better community,” said Valladares after the forum.”Tough choice.”

There were few disagreements, unlike the second debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. One candidate — Lynette McElhaney — left early and school board candidate Richard Fuentes could not attend because he had to work (for the Oakland City Council). City council candidate Alex Miller-Cole said he would be “one politician whose cell phone number you have” and candidate Larry Lionel Young Jr. stressed that he understood youth issues better because he was young.

The political forum grew out of interest by students participating in Alternatives in Action’s YOLO Youth Organizing Leadership Opportunities. Senior Donte Jackson asked many of the questions about safety, violence, jobs, a proposed teen curfew and McClymonds’ future.

City council candidates included Nyesha DeWitt, a youth dropout prevention specialist, Lynette Gibson-McElhaney, director of a housing non-profit (who left early), Alex Miller-Cole, a small business owner, Sean Sullivan, who works with homeless youth, and Larry Lionel Young, a realtor who ran for mayor in 2010.

The candidates are competing for Nancy Nadel’s seat. Nadel announced that she would step down after four terms representing West Oakland.  All contenders describe themselves as liberal or progressive. They all support community policing and oppose gang injunctions, and youth curfews.

Also speaking were school board candidates, incumbent Jumoke Hinton Hodge and challenger Benjamin Lang, who said he was the only candidate who has spent no money on his campaign and has accepted no donations. Candidate Richard Fuentes, who has the support of the teachers’ union, could not attend.

Among the more striking statements, Sullivan said that better lighting in Emeryville made the streets there safer and cleaner. And Young kept using slogans to push his candidacy. “Vote LL: Oakland will be well.”

My Life in and out of Mack

by Victoria Valenzuela

My life as a LATINA in a African American high school is not the easiest, but it’s not that bad. I grew up in the streets of San Bernardino  County, and I moved to Oakland, California when I was nine because my mom wanted a change for us. My older sister’s Dad used to beat her.

I started at McClymonds high school in West Oakland, where I am one of the two Latinas in the school .

Everyone thinks I am Mexican but I’m mixed: Puerto Rican , Sicilian and Mexican. Most of my life I grew up around mostly Mexican Americans, so starting here is a big change for me. I have a history class and they don’t talk about my culture at all, but mainly about African Americans like Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King.

I started at La Raza Studies after school program at Fremont high school on the east side of Oakland in order to learn more about my culture.

I loved learning more about my history — how we worked for our freedom and the threats of deportation and hard labor — but I also got into many fights and had been jumped several times for being a Surena, dressed in blue in a rival area.

In a sense, coming to Mack has taken me out of the gang scene that divides Latinos in Oakland.

They told my mom that I brought gang affiliation to the school. They told us that it’s not tolerated here and they threatened me with possible expulsion.

Affiliation is different than membership. To become a member, a girl has two choices: they can get passed around until they are done with them , or they can get jumped in by the leaders of the gang through a fight.

I started with the Surenos because my parents were both gang members. My mom raised herself and used to fight a lot. She is my role model, my inspiration because of  her struggles and kindness to others. My Dad is in prison in Tehachapi for armed robbery and drug dealing.

My Mom doesn’t approve of my “blue” and took away my Cortez (Nike shoes that represent the hood I’m from), my blue belt, my blue rosary, my blue rag, grey and white dickies. She even took the blue laces off my black Converse.

At Mack for A Month: Life in a Group Home


by Marius Perry

Oakland is 80 miles from my home — Sacramento. It also feels like it’s a million miles away from my baby Momma’s son, whom I haven’t held in my arms for two months.

I landed at McClymonds because I was sent away from Sacramento — they do that because they want to take you away from your friends, with whom you’ve gotten into trouble. But that means leaving everything behind.

For me, growing up in the streets of Sac-town meant getting in trouble , starting fights , getting arrested also for robbery. I was in and out of Juvenile Hall and got out on probation  only to sell drugs.

My lady babymomma has my adopted 3-month-old son MARIUS PERRY Jr. in Sacramento. I haven’t held my kid in 2months: I miss her and my mom back at home, who struggles to pay the rent . My dad was locked up most of my life. My mom was never really there for me , but she tried her best as a mother .  Growing up was hard because I never got the chance to live my life like a kid.

My life now in a group home is hard: I share a room with one of the other kids . I live with 6 people and I get along with them most of the time. We have to clean much more than I ever have. We wake up too early in the morning for school . The hardest part is having to deal with the consequences of my actions .

macksmack Editor Wins Three Journalism Awards


Pamela Tapia, editor of macksmack and a writer for the Oaktown Teen Times, has won three journalism awards in a contest for high school journalists in Northern California.

The Northern California Press Women’s Association held a ceremony for the winners on May 11 at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley.

Betty Packard, CPW executive director, said they were over 1,000 entries in 17 categories and lauded the quality of the work submitted.

Tapia won second place in feature writing for a story that explored the difficulties that girls experience when they leave gangs. The piece appeared in The Mosaic, a newspaper published by Mosaic, a summer minority journalism program at San Jose State University sponsored by the San Jose Mercury-News and several Bay Area media groups and foundations.

The other two awards were for stories which appeared in Oaktown Teen Times. Tapia won second place in environmental writing for a piece on the creation of YouTube videos by McClymonds students opposed to Proposition 23 and its impact on clear air in West Oakland. “Good use of sensory appeal and  good use of perceptive personal observations,” wrote the judge.

Tapia also won third place in feature writing for a story that explored restorative justice at McClymonds, an alternative to youth court and suspensions.

“What an honor to be recognized!” said Tapia.