Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 at 9:29 pm in Uncategorized.
OH man. Tonight was just too much. I always walk away from a crime scene (the Night Owl also includes covering night crime) with a feeling of sadness and regret. For the first time tonight, however, I feel the way many people at the crime scenes describe: like violence is out of control. A young man was gunned down about 5:30 at a community park, the Linden Street Community Plaza on 43rd and Linden, right behind a charter school and the Destiny Arts Center. When I looked up and saw the Destiny Arts banner it really hit me in the gut. My children spent several years at Destiny’s Teddy Bear Club, when the center was over on San Pablo. That’s why I didn’t expect to see the banner. The center is all about helping our kids rise above the violence that seeps into their lives. But there were more than 50 children in the building when the five shots rang out.
The victim evidently was shot outside the park then went inside, near the playground, where he was found.
The director of the school and artistic director of Destiny really stepped up in a way that I think showed their true colors. They’re the ones who called 9-1-1. The artistic director made sure the kids were safe, including the victim’s niece who was attending a Destiny program, then talked with them and worked through the incident (they’ll continue to do so). The school’s director went out with some Destiny staff and stayed with the victim for 20 minutes until an ambulance arrived. That says a lot to me about their spirit and that they “walk the walk,” for lack of better words.
Just a few hours earlier and less than mile away from the Linden Park shooting, a man was gunned down around the 3800 block of MLK, right down the street from Marcus Books and a house with Food not Bombs and Stop the War slogans in the window. I heard that a witness called police from Marcus Books. What an irony. Two shootings near places that are trying to make the city a better place. Even though it wasn’t my family or neighborhood, for the first time the violence feels barbaric. And I feel angry and sort of hopeless. It’s the first time I have an inkling of what people slammed by shootings feel when they say they feel like the violence is out of control. I have been in places recovering from war, so I know Oakland is not a war zone. But after tonight I understand a little more how people can say that it feels like a war zone. It’s feeling like nowhere is safe, that violence can hit anywhere at anytime. That their lives are unsafe. How can you not when a shooting happens at a park (which police said was usually quiet) right behind an organization so dedicated to helping people rise above the violence and create peaceful lives for themselves and their communities? That’s just f’ed up. I love O-Town, think it’s a brilliant city, wouldn’t be anywhere else. But tonight was so so so sad, folks.