02 Jun

My plans for my first day at work were simple… Wake up at 8:45. Bike to work at 9:45. Get to Prescott-Joseph Center at 10:00. Take my lunch break at 12:30. Up to this point, my day had gone as expected. During my lunch break, I decided to bring my bike to the local bike shop to have it checked for any issues (since it had been sitting outdoors for a long period of time before using it to get to work). As I wait in line at the bike shop, I cannot help but overhear a conversation between the storeowner and another local woman. She barged into the store and bypassed everyone in line to talk to the owner about a robbery that took place next to his shop the night before. She described how she has a set of cameras that monitor the area in front of his store that could identify the individuals who stole from the store. At this point, I am relieved. For once, the “bad guys” will be caught. Justice will be served. This is when the conversation took an unexpected turn. Though she knows the individuals who committed the crime, her and the storeowner agree that they shouldn’t report this information to the police. They voice the same concerns:

The last place these kids need to end up in is jail…

They will most likely get deported because they’re illegal…

Turning them in would label us as snitches…

We know people who could deal with it…

My mind was boggled. I struggled to understand why the two individuals agreed not to turn the thieves into the authorities. Will choosing not to pursue legal action send the message that it is okay to rob local stores?

The next day, a man outside the West Oakland BART station hands me a flyer… the bold headline says “From Police Violence to Hate Crimes… How can we win justice?” This is when I began to understand why the storeowner and local woman decided not to get the authorities involved. The people of West Oakland share a belief that the police don’t serve their best interests. This idea is supported even more so when the stories of Oscar Grant, Alan Bluford and Brandy Martell go unnoticed. The citizens of West Oakland Community don’t see anyone that truly cares about their well being.

Honestly, I don’t know how to bridge the gap between law enforcement and a community that feels alone… What I do know is that stopping violence in the community will only happen if the people and authorities begin to trust one another again and try to see the situation from the other’s perspective. Trust is truly what this community needs to win justice. I end this blog with the words of Frederick Douglass:

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe”

A Divided Community

1 Comment

Posted by on June 2, 2012 in 2012 Danny Vieira


One response to “A Divided Community

  1. Ana

    June 10, 2012 at 5:16 am

    Loved the quote by Frederick Douglass – so true!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: