Vigil held to support families of Oakland shooting victims


The idea behind the school supplies and backpack giveaway is to try to reach out to the children of those victims who were killed in the streets. The hope is the children will receive a message of education and hope, which organizers think will steer them away from a life of violence.

The event is organized by four women who have lost loved once to violence. One of the victims is 25-year-old Nehamiah Lewis, who was shot to death on the corner of Athens and San Pablo in Oakland last summer.

The organizers have assembled around 200 backpacks with various school supplies. The hope is to give them away to children whose families have been directly impacted by gun violence in the last two years. By their calculations, there were 95 victims in 2010 and so far 80 victims this year.

The women say it's time to take a stand. Reaching out to children is just their first step.

"Some of them can't afford to buy backpacks or supplies for their kids," said Carol Jones. "Some can, but I felt the need to give them out to show them that we care. We can reach out to the little sisters and the little brothers that they have."

Jones said those children need to be led by something positive.

Following the giveaway of school supplies, the group plans to hold a candlelight vigil Sunday evening in honor of those shot to death in Oakland over the past two years. At the same time, a separate vigil will be held for one of Oakland's most-recent victims.

Jose Esparza was gunned down last Sunday on 103rd and International Boulevard in Oakland. The vigil for Esparza will be held a few blocks from the scene of the crime on Sunday evening.

The latest homicide took place shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Terrance Smith was shot once at a residence and was declared dead at the scene. A second person was also shot in the same incident but is expected to survive their injuries.

Police so far have no information on a suspect in connection with Saturday's shooting.

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