What a bloody weekend--those four Oakland cops shot, and in Sacramento, four young men. Three of the Oakland cops have died and the fourth is brain dead and on life support. Their poor families. That poor city. The shooter was himself shot and killed, and his family is mourning, too. I wonder how much his decision to open fire on the police rather than be taken into custody was because of the New Year's Day shooting by the BART cop of the unarmed Oscar Grant? Did Saturday's shooter have that in his mind when he decided to open fire instead of allowing the cops to take him to jail over his no-bail warrant? He was a young black man--I can't imagine Grant's murder wasn't part of his mindset.
No, of course I don't write that to excuse the shooting of the four cops; I write it because violence feeds on itself. The one shooting created so much anger that I wouldn't be surprised if it were a factor in Saturday's shootings. And now, who knows who will be next? Will the Oakland cops be so tense and on alert that someone else dies because they had an eyelash in their eye and so looked suspicious as they blinked and rubbed? And then will there be more riots like the ones following the death of Oscar Grant?
Oakland is a wonderful city. My brothers were born there, my grandfather took us to the Natural Museum and the Zoo there. We watched my uncle sail his radio-controlled boats on Lake Merritt and we played in the wonderful children's playground whose name I don't remember. I took KidOne and KidTwo to that playground once when they were little; they loved it. In later years, I took KidThree to Oakland one day to buy shoes. It was right after I had broken one ankle and badly sprained the other, so she was pushing me around in a wheelchair we had borrowed from a friend. (Yes, nowadays we laugh about the irony of her pushing me in a chair.) A friend and I took KidThree to a photography exhibit on African American history in a museum in Oakland, and I've taken her there during drives around the Bay Area.
Oakland is so much more than gangs and shooting, but that seems to be all that makes the news. I hope for peace for the city and its citizens and police force alike, and for the families of those murdered officers. I hope no additional violence comes of this latest tragedy.
Up here, KidThree spent Friday night at her bio-mother's house. I went to pick her up Saturday, as someone down the street was going to have a party and parties in the 'hood so frequently turn violent. In the middle of the night, I woke up and found KidThree frantically working her phone, as she was getting reports of a shooting at another party in the area. One of the victims was thought to be one of a pair of twins she had been childhood friends with. She said, "you remember, Mom, B1 was the one who we saw at McDonald's that day." I remember that day. KidThree saw one of her former playmates and spent a funny few minutes trying to figure out if that dapper young man in the McDonald's uniform was B1 or B2; she finally decided it was B1, and later confirmed that with a friend.
Sunday morning I looked up Saturday evening shootings on the website of the regional paper and found that there were two, not just the one. In the incident KidThree had heard about, one young man was shot in the chest and was in critical condition, while another young man was shot in the leg. In another shooting not too far away (and close to where KidThree was shot two years ago), one young man was killed and another badly wounded. Guns and drugs and gangs and booze--it's a murderous combination.
Later, when KidThree got up, I asked which twin had been shot. Turned out it was both of them. My heart hurts for their family. No news so far on which twin was the more badly injured, and I didn't see any information about either shooting in the paper this morning. No news on the paper's website, either. A lot of the shootings in the 'hood aren't reported, as there are so many of them. KidThree didn't know the people involved in the other shooting.
It all sure makes me wonder about the advisability of having so many guns around. I know, "guns don't kill people, people kill people," but it would be a lot harder to go committing murder, especially multiple murders, with a knife. It makes me think about drug laws, too. I'm for legalization and have been for some time. Legalize drugs and the prices would drop way down, so crime to get money for drugs would drop way down, and the gangs wouldn't have nearly the source of income they have now. Legalize drugs and get the tax money. Marijuana is one of California's top crops, if not THE top crop--think what we could do with that tax revenue. Restrict the sale as is done with cigarettes and alcohol and get the element of violent crime removed from the industry. I know there's still crime around the transport and smuggling of cigarettes and alcohol, but I sure don't hear of many murders or home invasions being involved there.
We need better job programs for parolees and ex-cons, too. They're released from prison and told to go find a job, but who will hire them straight from the pen? (The shooter of the four Oakland cops was a parolee who couldn't find a job.) Maybe if there were some programs like Job Corps or the CCC, programs where those released from the system could get job training and job experience so they looked less frightening to other employers. Folks with jobs are less likely to get into mischief, or to knock someone over the head to get money.
What a messy, bloody world we live in.