Oakland community wants gun violence to stop

December 9, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Friday evening, Oakland faith and community leaders held a peace march and a memorial for all victims of gun violence.

The area of 64th and International Boulevard has been particularly deadly this year, which is one of the reasons why Oakland organizers created an evening of action. They started with a memorial and rally at 64th and International around 5 p.m., which is where little Carlitos Nava was killed by stray gunfire this summer. His death, and now the death of 23-month-old Hiram Lawrence, is becoming the major focus for organizers.

They read the names of those who were victims of homicide this year in the city of Oakland, then about 50 people marched up and down International Boulevard. For them, what has been the most difficult -- and for some infuriating -- has been the deaths of young children caught in the crossfire of what police say are gang shootouts.

"We see babies being shot. And so for us, it's something imperative that we move on very quickly and very seriously," said Towanda Sherry from Oakland Community Organizations.

Following the march, Mayor Jean Quan, Police Chief Howard Jordan and Probation Chief David Mohammed listened to testimonials from people who have been affected by gun violence. One victim of gun violence spoke from his wheelchair. Derrick Williams was shot when he was 13 years old.

"Why me? I was a good person, going to school, a good athlete, and this is where it left me," said Williams.

At this forum, organizers pressed the mayor and police chief to do something about the gun violence. Quan touted her 100 block plan, the specifics of which she says have been delayed because of the need to handle Occupy Oakland.

"We've been meeting with the principals within the 100 blocks, so it's something that we're inventing as we go along. It's the first time we've had, I think, a strategic tactical plan on violent crime in the city," said Quan.

This forum comes at a time when police are still seeking information in what is now a murder investigation of a 23-month-old child.

Community organizers encouraged people to contact police when they have information about a crime. With the death of Hiram, Jordan asked for information now to track down his killers.

"The folks that live in West Oakland, they know who they are, they know who did it, they know what gang they belong to, we're simply asking them to come forward and provide us with the information so we can remove the people that are responsible from the streets," said Jordan.

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