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

Thursday, April 25, 2013

OPD Chief Jordan on a 4-year-old who witnessed his own mother's murder

The young boy's mother was killed on 54th near Shattuck, in North Oakland, on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013, around 8:45 p.m. Officers at the scene had to care for him. The Chief was there, and had this to say:

"This is one of the saddest situations, where you have a 4-year-old that basically witnessed someone getting killed," Jordan said. "That is a memory he is going to have in his mind for a very long time. I'm not sure how he is going to recover from that."

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ice City Almanac's Top Stories

From A Violent Thing: Inside an Oakland Gang Call-In 
All gunshot wounds in Oakland are brought to Highland. She tells them, calmly, that the worst case scenario if you end up at Highland is surviving. Surviving a gunshot wound is the worst thing that can happen. It only takes one bullet in the spine and you’re a quadriplegic. No movement, no sex, someone has to wipe your ass. No one comes to visit you because no one wants to see you like that. I become your only friend, she tells them. She approaches the sharply-dressed Participant, points over toward the baby. Is that your baby? Is that your queen holding the baby? He nods politely. He’s looking her in the eye, looking up at her. You want that baby to see you paralyzed, with tubes coming out of you, with a colostomy bag? Imagine that. This is not rhetorical, it’s a demand. Imagine it. This right here today, she tells them, this is a blessing. Because you are alive and free.

From 13: At the Funeral of Thirteen-Year-Old Jimon Clark

Just ahead of me in line at the funeral of Jimon Clark, the last of six homicides to occur in Oakland between August 18th and August 25th, a group of kids in their early teens has reached the coffin. They look like they are not quite sure what to do. In line, all but two of them have been fairly upbeat, nonchalant, possibly faking their cool, or possibly they have done this so many times that it feels about the same as standing in line at a taco truck. I want to think they are faking, that their hearts are beating faster than usual, that they are at least a little freaked to confront the dead body of their friend and schoolmate, that maybe they are hiding secret worries that his gunshot wounds are visible.  I want to think that for these baby-faced, rather slight, early teenage kids from Oakland, neither the day nor the event is routine.

From The Dark Urges: In the ICU with Daryl Starks' Family

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.  It’s Saturday night. Starks was shot on Friday evening, at 78th Avenue and Bancroft, while driving home from the store. He was hit once in the shoulder and once in the back of the head. Now an ICU nurse sits distractedly at a computer station just outside a picture window with a view onto Starks' unmoving body. Occasionally the nurse checks his iPhone.

From Imaginary Pain: At the Grim Geographical Nexus, with Kids
In the neighborhood where these kids live and go to school, shootings and homicides occur with a depressing regularity.  Five days ago a man and a teenager were shot right here on Foothill Boulevard.  Last summer, Jimon Clark was killed on nearby Bancroft.  He was 13.  A few days before Jimon was shot in the back, Melvin Murphy was stabbed to death in an apartment complex on Bancroft.  Derrick Jones was killed on Bancroft by police back in November.  Alvaro Ayala was a student at the same high school as Lovell.  He was killed almost one year ago to the day. And yet, somehow, at least superficially, they remain, like all teens, conventional: self-conscious, social, periodically oblivious, ignorant of or uninterested in decorum.  They do tend to cooperate with the instructions of the preachers, to clap when they are asked to, to stand when they are asked to.  They know when they are expected to say “Amen” or to answer in unison a question about Jesus or the perils of smoking pot. But they don’t take any of the pastor’s words seriously.  Hopefully that’s because they assume they will never kill anyone anyway.  No doubt, being kids, and despite today's evidence to the contrary, some think they will never die.  And they don't seem gloomy. Until it is time to see their schoolmate’s body.

From Against Nostalgia: After The Death of Raymen Justice
There is a note, handwritten in black, taped to the apartment door, discouraging visitors from knocking. It makes the point that the Justices will have nothing to give you, especially money, and don’t knock unless you have brought something for them.  Marilyn Harris, of course, brings, as always, the promise of help, hope, and healing. She always enters even the tensest, most somber, most fraught rooms with the confidence and even the joy of the gifts she brings. It’s 9:30 in the morning. There are maybe seven people in the small, dimly lit, disheveled apartment. Raymen’s sisters are here. On the day after the killing, Raymen’s brother, Rayven Jr., collapsed and was taken to the hospital. Rayven Jr is a composer and performer of sort-of hip hop love ballads. He seems to be talented and is no doubt a sensitive person. He is recuperating with the boys’ mother at her home in East Oakland. A family friend named Miracle is here. Two years ago her brother was taken from this very apartment building and murdered; his body was burned so severely that the police could not declare the death an official homicide. There is a Tupac poster on the wall. Over the couch there is a narrow, framed portrait in oils of Raymen’s father, Rayven, in his younger days in a suit and round hat with an upturned brim. It was, I believe, a certain favored style in Oakland in the early 80s. Rayven Sr is a slight man, gray-haired, a Vietnam vet, angry as hell, righteous about having raised his two sons on his own, about their potential and their good grades. Raymen had a 3.3 grade point average, he tells us several times. Rayven Sr is sitting next to me on a small sofa. He’s drinking coffee with cream and sugar. Man he is pissed. He gets up a number of times and leans over the coffee table and into people’s faces to declare his independence from any need of the money being offered him.

From The Big Event
That bullet that wounds or kills, it also ricochets. As the news spreads through a family, through the streets, it continues to wound or kill; if one person has been taken from us body and soul, a dozen more are lost to us in lasting bitterness, subversive grief, debilitating fear, and, in the case of a child growing up on streets lorded over by the gun, a way of life they learn from repeated violence and loss.

From (New) Code of the West

In genuine disbelief, I turned and walked back against the tide and stood across from the church entryway to watch, as more and more people staggered out. Soon I heard sirens but only gradually realized they were for us. Within twenty minutes there were dozens of cops from numerous forces -- OPD, CHP, Alameda Sheriffs, Parole, Corrections. Lots of collegiality between them. Hugs and handshaking and "Where you been lately?!?" There were guys in riot gear. That erie modern sight of helicopters hovering over you. Most of the cops had tear gas guns, but at one point a tall, white officer (I'd say 80 to 90% were white) took something that looked like a guitar case out of a van, snapped it open, pulled out a machine gun, clicked the cartridges in, slung it around his shoulders and headed up the street. He looked thrilled. I counted nearly a hundred cops in half a dozen picket lines across at least two streets.