The homicide rate in the Bay Area has risen dramatically in recent years, but no city has been hit harder than Oakland. The overall number of Oakland homicides in 2020 was 109, the first time the city has reached triple digits since 2012. This year has unfortunately been much worse, with the 100th homicide case reported on Monday, September 20th, and the Oakland City Council declaring gun violence a public health issue the next day.
As of last Saturday, October 16th, there have been 111 homicide cases, all of which mainly impact Black and Latino communities, and mostly take place in East Oakland. The latest case, which took place on October 16th in East Oakland, left one man dead and another in the hospital. That same night, another shooting occurred in the North of Oakland, and, although wounded, the victim is still alive. No information about the victim’s identity or the shooting’s details has been released since the police are still investigating. No one has been arrested.
Another key case is the one of Shamara Young, a 15-year-old girl. On Wednesday, October 6th, Shamara was shot while in the passenger seat of a car during a road rage shooting. She was caught in the crossfire, despite having no involvement with the shooting. She attended Fremont High School and is fondly remembered by all who knew her. Shamara’s family held a peace rally at the intersection where Shamara lost her life to fight against injustice and help bring an end to all the violence.
Although Oakland’s homicide rates are often attributed to gang violence, Oakland’s Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong explains how many more factors like human trafficking, robbery, road rage, and random street violence in addition to the pandemic play a part in the escalating homicide rates. Panic rises as most of the people responsible for homicides have not been arrested. The police are short in staff, having very few officers and an abundance of cases. Additionally, due to the pandemic, the police need to maintain the number of people arrested in the Santa Rita Jail low. Therefore, emergency bail has been used often, leading to a faster release of those who are responsible for homicides.
Chief Armstrong states that the police alone cannot tackle this and has called for the Oakland community to take action. Furthermore, many community members express the opinion that this crisis will not be solved unless key changes are made in the community that gives people an alternative to violence, spreads awareness, and improves the relations between civilians and the police.
The multiple homicides have led Oakland to a state of grief, especially for the families of the victims. Because of this, many support and advocacy organizations like Youth Alive and Brady United have provided help and support to those affected and their loved ones. If you want to stay informed, show your support, or take action, take a look at their websites, (https://www.bradyunited.org/ and https://www.youthalive.org/).
Oakland’s homicide crisis is an important issue we should all be conscious of if we want to solve it. Although it has received the media’s attention, many remain uninformed. Numerous innocent people have already lost their lives, and we cannot let any more people suffer the same tragedy.