Oakland California had a busy year with the Occupy Wall St. movement in 2011. We saw a lot of political talk, shut down ports and political unrest in the city. Ironically, in the shadow of “the movement” that created the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, Oakland saw a surge in homicide. Sadly, many of the victims were children. Gabriel Martinez Jr. was killed in front of a taco truck. He was only 5 years old. New York Times reports:
He was the third young child killed in Oakland since August, the 110th homicide of 2011, and the 199th juvenile shooting victim of more than 2,000 people who were victims of gun violence in an especially bloody year in an increasingly violent city.
His killer has not been found. There have been no arrests. In that, the shooting of the boy known in the neighborhood as Gabrielito is typical. According to preliminary data provided to The Bay Citizen by the Oakland Police Department, of the 1,500 reported incidents of gun violence in the city last year, arrests were made in just 117 of the cases — less than 8 percent. In 2010, the police made arrests in close to 13 percent of the 1,280 shootings. There were 1,045 shootings in 2009, according to the police department.
The violence in Oakland is staggering to anyone you can ask. The cure for the murders in unclear. What seems to be clear though, is that it is easy to get a gun in “the city of dope.”
According to the Oakland police, handguns were used in 82 murders, assault rifles in nine, and rifles and shotguns in seven. There are no gun stores in Oakland, but street outreach workers said it is easy to buy an illegal gun on the street for $75 to $400. Still, the police are confiscating only about 700 firearms per year, little more than half of what they did in 2007.
“To secure a gun in Oakland is like looking for some candy,” said Anthony Del Toro of California Youth Outreach, a gang prevention and intervention program.
More an more you hear talk of how certain behavior in kids looks like post traumatic stress disorder. In Oakland its been referred to as Turf War Syndrome, as a result of the gang conflicts. Is it right to wonder how so many concerned citizens of Oakland could shut down a port, but were unable to cure any of the violence in the city? Did those Occupy Oakland activists not care, or were they unaware? What do you think should be done to stop the violence? Put your thoughts below.
Read the full story in New York Times.