The shrine for Edgar is three blocks away from my house. Edgar was shot and killed on Monday afternoon on the corner where sometimes we stop and play at the park with our dog. She likes to run up and down the slides. My son is old enough now to read the graffiti that covers the play structure and benches. My dog doesn't read, but it's obvious that there are a lot of people who want us to know that this is their park.
Now a little corner will be devoted to Edgar. He lived to be eighteen. Now there are candles lined up in front of the sign that welcomes visitors to Nicol Park. There are a number of colorful mylar balloons tied to the fence along with three plain white T-shirts spray-painted with the legend: RIP Edgar 6/16/08.
It is a sad irony that one of the photos that our city councilman, Ignacio De La Fuente, chose to include in his campaign materials was a pretty color picture of Nicol Park shortly after it had been completed. In spite of the best efforts of city crews to cover it up, that was about the last time that the park was free of gang graffiti. I used to content myself with the notion that that kind of thing happened when I was safe at home, three blocks away. Edgar was shot and killed at one thirty in the afternoon. He has the nominal distinction of being the fifty-eighth homicide in Oakland this year. There were children playing in the park at the time. Police said none of them were hurt. And I guess that will have to serve as the good news.