This site displays photos of makeshift memorials that spontaneously arise after individuals are killed by violence in Oakland. Each site of a killing is photographed whether or not a memorial is found there....

Monday, February 5, 2007


I hate that word. Not just because it's inherently bad news. It has completely lost its meaning.
As I compile the information on these "tragedies", I find myself looking for patterns & similarities. For example, the last 2 homicide victims were both Black 21 year-olds killed on Feb 3rd by a gun. But such exercises are silly. I'm sure these 2 individuals were completely different and, well, individuals (one was killed by police, the other by a friend). I think the brain tries to look for things to distract it from the reality at hand.
I remember being at a meeting to discuss funding for violence prevention initiatives. There was a high-ranked public official present who said something to the effect of: "When a homicide happens, it shouldn't be a story buried in the paper somewhere. We should respond according to the tragedy that it is".
I remember thinking it sounded nice, but was essentially bullshit. If we really thought these homicides were the tragedies that they are, our grief would lead us to outrage, solidarity, and mobilization. These tragedies have happened too much and for too long. By and large, we've gotten used to them. I'd even say they've become acceptable. Is it because the lives lost are expendable, or is it because mainstream society can afford to continue without doing more about it?
Probably both.
How did it come to this?
The only appropriate social response to this "plague of killing" (as the SF Chronicle calls it), and to the fact that we've all but abandoned our inner cities nationwide, would be a response and investment of Marshall Plan proportions. Nothing short of this will result in any meaningful, significant and sustainable change, nor convey to our underclass the message that Yes, we do care. Until then, poverty and neglect will continue to reap and sow themselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Nic, I wholeheartedly agree with your notion of a Marshall Plan for our nation's inner cities. Words of sympathy without a meaningful response by our nation's leaders are hollow ones indeed. I work in a public school in West Oakland in District 3 that has been devastated by the violence. Recently, after a shooting next door to our school, we had a community meeting to discuss our feelings. Community leaders came up with some ideas how to mantain peace. Certainly, getting our youth off the streets at night and into socially stimulating and meaningful activities could be a start. Many older adults that have grown up in "ghost town" remember when skating rinks, bowling alleys and other recreational facilities were open during the evening hours for our youth. A new, new deal is what we should be demanding to fix our cities and make them habitable.