The bullet that wounds or kills is only the beginning of the story. These are profiles, written since 2010, of those living in the aftermath of violence in Oakland, where you can multiply their stories, and their pain, by thousands, to include all the wounded and all the members of the families of the 450-plus killed in the past four and a half years.
Caheri Gutierrez was shot in the face and nearly killed:
After nearly dying that night, after waking up to find her self jawless and toothless and deaf in one ear, and after a month in the hospital, Gutierrez had gone home to East Oakland, only to find her struggle for recovery haunted by fear of the street, by nightmares, by a growing anger and an incipient grief for her lost identity. This is where victims of violence find themselves, in a lonely place where no one around them knows how to help. The victim feels helpless and so do the victim’s loved ones, coworkers, neighbors and friends. Many are afraid even to approach that dark place full of fear and confusion and anger where the victim exists.
I Might Have Some Hope Here
Beautiful Wounded: a story from the Deep
Prologue to a Maze of Dreams
No Escape, No Surrender
Rose Holman lost her son:
"I know it, but then I don't," says Holman. "I still feel like we have had one of our arguments, a falling out. But that sooner or later we will meet up, at a family gathering or something, and we will sit down to talk and then we will be past it and move on." Sooner or later, maybe much later, it will hit her, though, that there will be no chance to reconcile with her son, or to watch him become the man she hoped he would be. And then all the grief will come tumbling down on top of her again.
Life After Homicide - Part 1: Adrift in a Churning Tide & Part 2: "She's gonna help you get through it"
Mallie Latham lost his daughter:
It wasn't just her mannerisms that struck her dad as free and easy. Before she was shot to death in 2012 on a street in East Oakland, Mallie Latham's youngest daughter, Shanika, a college student one week shy of her 21st birthday, had seemed untouched by the things in life that strip away our joy and our trust in others. "She had that openness and freshness," says Latham. "She made friends easily."
No Manual: After the death of Shanika Latham
Jean Eason returned from the war in Afghanistan unharmed:
Even today, tonight, walking around the lake, some stretches of our path are darker than others, and Jean can seem suddenly nervous, lost in a story he knows well, quiet for a moment. At one point he says, "Man it's dark here" and it sounds like the path he is still on in life, the path all victims of violence find themselves on: struggle, progress, healing, then suddenly the dark, the nervousness and confusion return.
Unwounded in Afghanistan, Shot in East Oakland
Daryl Starks family waited for him to die in the Highland ICU:
Darryl Starks' little sister needs $20. She needs it for a new tattoo, one that will commemorate his death, which is imminent. Starks himself lies intubated and comatose in a narrow hospital bed, in ICU room #19, at the Alameda County Medical Center, a.k.a Highland Hospital. He lies under bright lights. His head is tilted back a little on the white pillow, skewed just slightly to his left, toward where his oxygen tube runs. His eyelids are not completely closed.
The Dark Urges
Ultra and Akim Humphries lost their son:
Then came those long hours between rumor and knowing, the last, strange, painful hours between a normal life and the void, hours like a slow breaking of your bones, as you search for the truth, for something solid, some authority to tell you he is alive or dead. Sometimes the only real authority is your own eyes.
After the Death of Darnell Byrd, Jr - Part 1: Between Rumor and Knowing & Part 2: "A Story that is Killing My Heart"
Marilyn Harris lost her only son:
Marilyn Washington Harris aids Oakland's forgotten and its shunned. Since losing her only son to the gun in 2000, and finding no help available, she has dedicated her life to stepping into the immediate aftermath of homicides to provide help, hope and healing to stunned, angry, mourning families. Daily, she guides Oaklanders through the craziness, the hopelessness, and the business -- coroners, funerals, city offices, police -- of being a survivor.
A Plight, and a Plea for Oakland
Anniversary of an End and a Beginning
No Escape, No Surrender
Lashawn Randolph lost her daughter, Rich Livingston lost his son; they died together:
Both Rick and Lashawn talk about a future they will never witness. Rickey's dad dreamed of taking his son to exotic places, "away from the concrete of Oakland and San Francisco." Alexis mom talks about the happy answers she will never get, what college Alexis would go to, what career path her promising daughter would follow. Both young people have had birthdays since their deaths. Each family had a party.
A Search that Never Ends