Friday, June 19, 2009

Beating in a Beauty Salon:
I hope that's not the core of the future-orientation of Oakland

I'm slaggin' on my blogging and have been thinking of this latest story to surface in the Dimond Community this past week.  Gone viral on the internet because of the disturbing video [embedded below] shared via Channel 7, the story concerns a beauty salon merchant in the Dimond District beat up in their store during business hours.  [link to blog article on the Channel 7 site].

What is it about violence that seems so impossible to overcome and the continuing crime that seems despairingly to be accepted as part of Oakland culture?  Maybe I'm watching too much of The Wire on netflix.  A friend is in town this week and repeated on a recent drive their surprise about how nice Oakland is, that it's not just crime-infested ghettos ridden with violence and drugs as portrayed in the news.  We were in the Glenview, on the border of the Dimond, in which there is crime like this beating, like the dead man dropped from a car in front of the library in the past month, and deals that I see happening most days along McArthur.

In the face of it all I feel helpless.  What can I do?  What do I do?  Believing through faith, that we're called to overcome evil with good I feel convicted and called, yet all do often unclear about what and how I can be present like that in our neighborhood and shared city.  A recent post on A Better Oakland asks the question "What are the core functions of a city?"  Maybe that's the starting point.  Oaktown has to be about more than hiring more cops, or putting up with crime, or hoping to move up the hill to Montclair.


Leila Abu-Saba said...

I'm just reading Jean Quan's newsletter and see this "While City Crime is down by about 20 percent, home burglaries are up. "

Studies have shown that people who watch the 6 pm news perceive crime as going up even when crime rates are going down. I would suggest that watching a Youtube video of a beating will also skew your vision.

Yes I know that stuff happens on MacArthur. I am on the boulevard all the time myself - maybe not as much as you since your office is there. Somebody got shot in front of my house on the first of June. However. He didn't die. And the overall crime rate is down, and meanwhile, my daily experience is of being safe walking around the Laurel and Dimond districts.

I hope you can turn your attention to the ways that our neighborhood is extremely healthy. Your blog pulpit amplifies your vision, friend, and I hope you can post more of the good acts that occur here every day.

Best of luck on your move!

Anonymous said...

I don't watch the 6 o'clock news and I feel crime is going up in this area, mostly the extremely violent assault type crimes. We lost one neighbor on Champion who was gunned down and another man who was murdered in front of the library. Then we have a beat down in the Dimond, videotaped and put on YouTube. The reality is no one on my street or neighborhood is walking the sidewalks after dark. This is called being realistic and concerned for your own welfare.

And like, Monte, I run a blog, not a blog pulpit. I think there are a lot of good things going on the area but the bad things need to be talked about too. It's called finding answers. You can't learn and grow from talking about the sunny weather all the time.

Monte said...

I think you two are really on the same bandwagon - and would dig each other if you meet around the Dimond.

I'm all for pointing out hopeful things and pointing to hope emerging, envisioned and embodied. And at the same time it seems that we still need to name the evils in our midst - not so much as to lift them up - as to identify them so that we can reject and leave them behind, moving as a community towards justice, collaboration and mutual-empowerment.

Crime seems to me in my conversations, and some past organizing research, to continue to be the major factor for folks in the Dimond, Laurel and Maxwell Park - heck for all of Oakland. I know that it's always been that way. Yet if this is a zeitegest, rebirth, resurrection moment for Oakland because of gentification, the arrival of so many san francisco refugess and the changing housing market - it seems that we need to own up to the crime, fight it and not just watch folks move to Orinda, Antioch or Richmond.