Very sad news in Oakland this past weekend. Apparently, a series of disputes between Oakland resident Lovelle Mixon and the police went real bad, leaving Mixon dead, three cops dead and one brain dead. You can read all the details here.
In the article that I link to above, what really caught my eye was the last sentence: “Mixon’s uncle, 38-year-old Curtis Mixon of Fremont, said his nephew had become depressed because as a convicted felon he could not find work.”
We forget how in this country, when people are convicted of a crime and sent away, they are handed a lifetime of punishment, even if they are released back into society. I’ve seen the psychological toll it takes on people who have a felony (or even just a misdemeanor) on their record and are thus shut out of any kind of legal employment, housing, etc. You are simply stripped of all your dignity, and are oftentimes placed right back on a path to prison.
Now, don’t get me wrong, The Cheddar Box is not encouraging people to go out and shoot cops. I’m just saying that this story leaves me profoundly sad, both in terms of the incident and the larger context in which it occurred.
I’m sad for all the people involved in last weekend’s tragedy. I’m sad for the thousands of people killed by the police in the past and those who unfortunately will assuredly be killed by them in the future. I’m sad for all the victims of violence around the globe, from the streets of Oakland to the streets of Palestine.
The SF Chronicle recently ran a great little spotlight feature on a small record shop called the Groove Yard in the Rockridge district of Oakland that specializes in jazz vinyl. Surprisingly, business is booming at the Groove Yard, even in the age of digital downloads. I can tell you this, the dj in me will forever swear that the sound of vinyl through a good sound system is superior to any other format.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums gave his State of the City speech earlier this week and spit the truth, as usual. Hearing the man speak about our great city always makes me proud to claim Oakland, and even more proud of the grassroots community organizing efforts that got this progressive mayor elected. Peep the homie Greg’s great post covering Dellums’ speech.
Of course, there will always be haters, and the one sippin the most Dellums Haterade is definitely SF Chronicle “reporter” Chip Johnson(in quotes bc the man doesn’t report, he just talks shit). Chip lives in Oakland, sadly, and loves to rant on about how “soft” Dellums is on crime. Granted, Oakland does have a tragic amount of crime and violence. However, Chip’s solution is to hire more police to make more arrests and send more people to jail. I’m not saying Dellums should never be criticized, but Chip writes with such pretentiousness that he ends up sounding exactly like what he is, an asshole.
Dellums understands that you cannot arrest, imprison, and execute your way out of this problem. Fixing the roots of crime requires policing solutions, economic solutions, education solutions and community solutions but NOT policing by itself. Chip Johnson does not understand this. Chip, please quit your hating and go move to Marin. And oh yeah, fuck you from The Box, Oakland has no need for your negativity.
As the Oakland Warriors continue to do their thing (handling the Tim-Duncan-less-but-still-dangerous San Antonio Spurs last night by a score of 96-84), I have to give some love to that man Baron Davis aka BD aka B-Diddy. Turns out the man is blogging over at YardBarker. Peep the videos below, shit is hilarious. He could come real hood one day in all slang and then read some shit for the book club and come real educated another day, you just never know. Unpredictable, he blogs the same way he plays the game, ya dig? B. Diddy blackberry blog ballin goes hard in the paint, son!
I still think trading J-Rich was the wrong move, but the Warriors recent 4-1 winning road trip is making me believe in them again after an awful 0-6 start. They only lost to Boston on this trip, but the way Kevin Garnett beasted on us shows that we really do need another solid big man. Anyway, the fast pace does keep things entertaining, and Monta Ellis did his thing last night against the Sixers. Go Warriors. Seeing as how they are the lone bright spot in Bay Area sports these days, how about the city of Oakland goes ahead and buys the team? Its called municipalization, and its what the city of Green Bay did with the Packers over in the NFL. That way, the profits off ticket sales can go to things the city needs, like education, health care, etc. instead of just making another random gazillionaire even richer. Just a thought, but peep my man Dave Zirin’s recent article for more.
“I am serious about crime and violence, and I’m so serious that I’m saying let’s don’t play games with each other, folks. When crime and violence were constrained to the barrios and the ghettos and the ‘hoods, people didn’t pay any attention. [When it spreads citywide] we’re all concerned about it.
This is not just a question about police. We have to do the best we can, and I’m absolutely and unequivocally committed to do that. But at the same time, I have lived long enough to know we have closed our eyes to the injustices and inequities, and now we are reaping the wild winds of that disregard for a whole range of people.”
~Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, 10/13/2007
In addressing a North Oakland Town Hall meeting yesterday, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums is consistently setting an example for how progressive big-city mayors should talk about solutions to the issue of crime. He also outlined his vision for the city, which included plans for a citywide zoning plan, high density concentrated in the downtown area, and a mixed-used development of the former Oakland Army base that would produce a minimum of 10,000 jobs. Word.
We’re approaching the final months of Ron Dellums’ first year as Mayor of Oakland, and he has stated how he thinks big city mayorship is a harder job than the US presidency. His relationship with the mainstream local press and media has definitely been cold, and the really negative articles about him written by SF Chronicle columnists such as Chip Johnson and Matier & Ross are reflective of that. However, that relationship might be changing, and Chip Johnson wrote some interesting thoughts on a conversation he had with the Mayor recently.
I for one appreciate that Oakland now has a progressive, passionate Mayor with real vision. He leads in a very thoughtful way, and it shows in his approach to specific issues, such as public safety. Oakland has one of the highest murder rates in the country, and the struggle to stop the violence occurring in our city everyday is an issue that must be addressed (not to mention racist killings like that of Gary King, killed by the Oakland Police Department). It is also a very complex issue with no simple solutions. Dellums has been criticized for not providing concrete details on his plans for lowering the homicide rate; people think he’s straight up “not doing anything.” However, he recently announced his plans to hire 25 Street Outreach workers from East and West Oakland whose jobs will be to steer Oakland youth away from crime and drugs and into recreation programs, education and jobs. The idea is that these workers will be experienced in conflict resolution and social services, as well as being from the neighborhoods they would work in, thus giving them the cred they would need with the community to try to stem the violence. This is an idea that makes so much sense, but is completely different from the generic solutions to crime that you normally get that call for “more cops, more arrests, bigger jails,” all of which Dellums has repeatedly said he will not pursue.
This is the difference that you get with Dellums. I get the sense that he doesn’t want to just appear like a strong personality in front of cameras and press conferences, he genuinely wants to do what he can to make Oakland the “model city” that we all know it can be. He wants to take the time to think and plan out a course of action, so that the plan is the best one. However, he’s always said that he is only one man and can only do so much by himself. If we are invested in a prosperous future for all of Oakland’s residents, we all have to do our part. Time will tell if Dellums’ approach does in fact translate into results. Its still early in his term and I for one am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.