A short time ago, my son opined that this was not the city in which he grew up. The owner of a nearby restaurant was gunned down in front of his eleven year old son, just blocks from where we live. As of this writing, no arrests have been made.
On Memorial Day, I was sitting in the front room of my house, preparing for the week's activity: a three day math training, one more stop on the teacher train before hopping off for summer break. From my vantage point, I saw a red car zip up the street past the stop sign which often seems to be more distraction than direction. I heard screams coming from the street. The drapes to the picture window were closed, to limit afternoon glare, but I pushed them aside in order to see what the fuss was about.
A woman was standing near the curb in front of the apartment building next door to us, holding the back of her head. And screaming.
By the time I had rushed out the front door, down the steps and out to the street, two of our neighbors intersected with my line toward the screamer. One of them was already busily dialing her cell phone. 911. This was no little kerfuffle. This was a carjacking. In broad daylight. On a holiday afternoon. The other neighbor had thoughtfully brought an ice pack which was applied as we all tried to make sense of what had happened over the past three minutes.
Two men and a woman had rushed up to our victim, grabbed her, and pushed her to the ground. That was when she hit her head of the pavement. The woman jumped into the car while the two men returned to their car and they all sped off. Which is where I came in.
That's when we began to wait. Wait for the victim's frightened daughter to arrive. She had been on the phone with her mother when the violence erupted. Waiting for the authorities to arrive. They appeared in the form of a fire truck and an ambulance. Three calls had been made at this point to the police had been called three separate times.
The victim, our neighbor, had her call and all its contents stolen from her as she was getting out to go inside. It only took that moment for her life to change. As the neighbors poured out onto the street, we realized our lives were changing too. A violent crime had been committed in our hood.
We were, as a group, frightened and we were angry. It could have been any one of us. It was an attack on one us, which meant it was an attack on all of us. This mix of fear of anger ran through us as our neighbor was loaded into the ambulance. We continued to wait for a police car to show up. After the ambulance pulled away, we continued to wait.
While we waited, we discussed the probable outcomes of the incident. The car was most likely driven to a secluded corner or cul de sac. The contents were quickly sorted for their their value. The car was relieved of its catalytic converters. The rest was left by the curb for someone else to deal with.
The police car never came.
It was another day in Oakland.