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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Death like a public bus

A telling quiet hangs over Oakland this week. With the funeral of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine behind us, and the killing of 66-year-old Judy Salaman fading into the past, there are no more victim profiles in the local news, or calls from our city leaders for change, for action, for something to be done to prevent further violence in Oakland. 

Backwards graffiti, abandoned 16th Street Station, Oakand
And yet, the city suffered three homicides last week. Three men were killed, ages 18, 22 and 43. As far as I can tell, OPD hasn't held a news conference to discuss any of the 3 killings. No council member has met with the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, these victims were of the gender, the ages, and were killed in the kinds of places where to the outside world, even to Oaklanders from outside their world, death is thought to cruise the streets like a public bus. It makes its regular stops. We hear its noise only as it passes. But we don't ride that bus and so we don't pay much attention to it, and it moves on.

This is a question I find myself asking several times a year: what is the thought process, what are the assumptions we're making, that lead us to shrug off killings like those that occurred last week? What specifically about those killings fails to cause the outrage, despair and anger we express so publicly when the victims fit a different profile? And if we were to feel similar outrage, despair and anger with each Oakland killing, instead of treating 97% of them like a passing bus we'll never ride, would things change?

See: Oakland's Civic Trauma
See: Read about today's killings, then forget


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