Scenes from the aftermath in Oakland:
stories of victims, survivors and healers.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Anniversary of an end and a beginning in Oakland

From the Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence:

Killed in Oakland, but his spirit lives
Sunday August 4th, 2013 marks the 13th anniversary of the shooting death of Khadafy Washington on the campus of McClymonds High School in West Oakland. Khadafy was 18. He had graduated just two months earlier. He was riding his bike that night. He died quickly, but his family's pain and struggle were only just beginning. 

Thirteen years later Khadafy's mom, Marilyn Washington Harris, and the Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence continue to support thousands of survivors of the well-over 1500 people killed in Oakland since that fateful night in 2000. 

Miss Marilyn started in the months after Khadafy's killing by conceiving billboards, which were distributed, 19 of them, about the city, with Khadafy's picture and the blaring question: Do You Know Who Killed Me? They were a stark reminder to a city sometimes in denial that too many of its young men were dying violent deaths. 

Soon she was organizing marches to bring attention to Oakland's problem with violence, and to the lasting pain families of victims endure. Privately, she would reach out to individual families in the immediate aftermath of a homicide, sending them mementos and reminders that they were not forgotten.

Then she began seeking them out personally, at their homes, the hospital, even at crime scenes, taking them by the hand to guide them through the craziness that descends on a family in the days and weeks after a loved-one's sudden, violent death. In their weakest moments, she protected them from exploitation, scraped up funds for the mostly poor families so that they could bury their dead with dignity and grace, and continued to counsel and care for them as they tried to get back to life. Today, as the violence persists, Khadafy's mom is Oakland's primary crisis responder, touching the lives of thousands of suffering Oaklanders. 

Through the life and growth of the foundation named in his memory, we like to think that Khadafy still lives and grows, and that it's his spirit reaching out to the survivors of Oakland's killed, those living victims of homicide, that it is Khadafy's spirit helping them begin the long process of healing, of finding some kind of peace and love in their lives and their city. 

Read more about the work of Marylin Washington Harris and the Khadafy Foundation for Non-Violence in San Francisco Magazine, "No Escape, No Surrender", and at Ice City Almanac "She's gonna help you get through it."

Jim O'Brien
Member of the Board

Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence

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