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.