Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Intro to the Night Owl

By awoodall
Wednesday, May 30th, 2007 at 10:53 pm in Uncategorized.

Oaklanders are tired of hearing about violence. At least, that’s what I heard over and over on Friday. Folks said they want to hear about the good things happening in Oakland; that they want a balance to the bad news, which was another way of saying there is too much reporting about shootings and homicides.

About the time I was wrapping up a night of prowling around the city’s buzzing bars and galleries (getting ideas and material to launch this blog and for upcoming stories) — and hearing the last of the bad vs. good news pleas — a woman was shot in the face near Ritchie Street and Macarthur Boulevard.

About that same time, crowds of young artists were laughing and dancing in 23rd Street between Broadway and Telegraph during the monthly Artmurmur. It was pure joy outside the Esteban Sabar and Mama Buzz galleries.

But by the time the sun rose, two men were dead and five others were wounded in shootings, including Byron Richardson, 27, a father of two children, and Willie V. Hickman III, 18, whose family had recently moved to Stockton to protect him from the violence of Oakland’s streets.

A few readers of the story reporting their death responded online with comments that crime in Oakland is out of control and they were sick of it. It reminded me of an afternoon when my older daughter and I were hanging out in at World Cup Tamale near the Fruitvale BART station. It was warm and people were out on the streets shopping and chatting. I loved seeing how much the district had blossomed since I lived on 58th and High (aka International Boulevard) back in the early 1990s.

But hours later, a 19-year-old man was shot dead while walking with friends to a party.

The district seems to suffer from a split personality. That’s the way parts of Oakland are.

So, here I am, the night beat reporter for the city’s paper, whose job since April 2 is to cover the nightlife and night crime. The reality is that there are plenty of both.

But I think the tension between the two makes for a beautiful, crazy, frustrating and compelling city — one that I will do my best to cover for readers.

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