Oakland church remembers those killed in 2012

December 31, 2012 11:55:50 PM PST
Each year at a local church in Oakland a ceremony is held to remember the people killed in that city. This year has been especially devastating.

Dozens of white crosses on the front lawn of St. Columba Catholic Church are a sobering reminder of the level of violence in Oakland in 2012. Each cross has a number and a name written on it.

Devoria Williams, a victim's mother, spoke to us and said, "My son's name is Clifford Sneed. He was shot Oct. 28th and he was on his way home from his grandmother's house."

Her son's name is among the 131 names written on the crosses. Not since 2006 has the homicide rate in this city been so high.

As part of this ceremony the name of each victim is read and each cross is carried into the church. The names on these crosses also include an alarming number of women and children.

"This year 20 percent of the people murdered were women. We haven't had that for a long time and an unacceptable number were children," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.

The aim of the event is to help people visualize how many victims have been killed and the hope is to prevent the same thing from happening in the coming year.

"There's a lot of challenges in Oakland, but this is the number one priority for us, reducing violence and making sure that 2013 is a lot better than 2012," said Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan.

Jordan says he's planning a number of new strategies to help get a handle on the violence. He wants to reintroduce community policing and he's looking forward to having former New York Police Commissioner and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton come on board as a special consultant.

"Having someone, a national expert in reducing violence in larger cities than Oakland, I think we have an opportunity to make an impact here in Oakland," said 24-year-old Anthony.

The hope is for fewer names to be called at this ceremony next year.