Oakland, Kalifornië, op Maandag aangeteken sy 100ste moord van 2021, 'n grimmige mylpaal wat plaasvind in stede in die VSA sedert die begin van die Covid-19-pandemie geweergeweld sien toeneem het.
Die Oakland police department said it received reports on Monday morning about multiple gunshots being fired in East Oakland, a neighborhood that has long borne the brunt of gun violence in the city. Authorities later said a man had died, marking the tenth shooting death in the city in the past week.
“If this is not a call to everyone in the community that this is a crisis, I don’t know what is,” said LeRonne Armstrong, Oakland police chief, at a press conference that opened with 100 seconds of silence in memory of the lives lost so far this year.
Oakland, like many cities throughout the US, has seen an uptick in homicides since the onset of the pandemic. Sover, 2021 is outpacing 2020. The city had logged 66 homicides this time last year, en 52 in 2019.
Among this year’s gun violence victims were two teenage girls, Alayasia Thurston, 19 and Zoey Hughes, 16 who were killed after shooters ambushed a party bus carrying them from a birthday celebration in May. Da’Shawn Rhoades, 22, was killed during a mass shooting that injured 8 others at Oakland’s popular Lake Merritt in June. Hassani Bell, 23, was shot as he left a barbershop on 3 September.
'To have this many homicides in one year’s time has been ridiculous,” said Jasmine Hardison, a program manager with Oakland- based violence prevention organization Youth Alive! “It’s overwhelming and it saddens my heart because I’ve gone through this already, so to hear these similar stories is disheartening.”
Hardison founded a support group to help families of gun violence victims heal from traumatic losses after her own son, David McDaniel, was shot and killed in 2016. She joined Youth Alive! in 2020 and estimates that she’s helped at least 40 families in her brief tenure with the nonprofit, responding to homicide scenes, helping families with funeral arrangements and helping victims to access support resources.
The rise in gun violence deaths in Oakland comes after years of progress in decreasing homicides throughout the region. Oakland’s homicide rate hadn’t crossed 100 sedert 2012 and violence intervention models credited with contributing to the decline were gaining national acclaim and recognition.
Firm answers on the reasons for the rise in gun violence remain elusive. Community members, violence interrupters and law enforcement have all offered up various factors that may be contributing, including pandemic-induced stress, economic hardship, anti-police sentiment, and the loss of the social structures for those most at risk of being shot or shooting someone else.
But it is clear that homicides continue to impact the city’s lower-income Black and Latino neighborhoods most, with residents in those communities facing an outsized portion of gun violence.
“Our communities are ecosystems; these are not disconnected tragedies,” said Pastor Mike McBride of the Live Free Campaign, a national faith-based violence reduction group. “We have to restore the ecosystem of peace and healing and invest in it.”
Oakland’s city council in June voted to allocate an additional $17.4m to its chronically underfunded department of violence prevention, a city agency created in 2017 that holds community town halls about violence and disburses grants to smaller peacemaking organizations in the city. Some of the funds were reallocated from a proposed $57m increase from the city’s police.
“I don’t want to see another single death but there’s still work as before to figure out what all these investments will mean on the ground,” said John Torres, Youth Alive’s! deputy director. “I know people will still be impacted by violence along that path. But I hope we get there sooner rather than later.”