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Recent Oakland/Hayward Shootings-Brandan’s Take

February 17, 2010

Our first show revolved around three topics:

  • The racially motivated shooting that took place at the Southland Mall in Hayward, CA, stemming from the 2007 shooting of African-American teenager, Vernon Eddins, outside of his former middle school by Decotos gang members in Union City, CA
  • The recent drive-by that took place in East Oakland that left two young men hospitalized, while a third young man, 17-year-old Kevin Rodgers, tragically lost his life
  • BART’s settlement with Oscar Grant’s “family”

These particular topics hit really close to home for me for a number a reasons, starting with the shooting that took place at Southland Mall. I wasn’t even aware that a shooting had taken place that caused Hayward police to shut down the entire area (including portions of the 880 freeway) in an effort to try to apprehend the gunman until about a week later. I live in Hayward and the Southland Mall is 5-minute drive from my spot. I easily could have been there when the shooting took place and could have been targeted simply for the fact that I am African-American.

Another startling fact is that the shooting didn’t take place in the parking lot outside of the mall, but the gunman actually opened fire INSIDE Kohl’s. How many children are dragged to Kohl’s and places like it by their moms to run errands every Saturday? How many innocent people were placed in harm’s way because of the senseless act of violence committed by a conscienceless individual? But the biggest question that we must ask is why is it that a shooting takes place in Hayward and Hayward Police Department is all over it, but the same gang that was responsible for the death of Vernon Eddins is given a free pass by the Union City Police Department? Two years later they still haven’t tracked down Vernon’s killer when the shooting not only took place in front of Vernon’s former middle school in the midst of multiple eye-witnesses, but it also took place right across the street from the police department!

The African-American youth of Union City live in constant fear of their surroundings, so much so that most of them stay confined in their own homes, many have transferred to other school districts, and some have moved to different cities all together. All while the Union City Police Department, the same people who take an oath to serve and protect its citizens, turn a blind eye.

When I heard about the drive-by shooting that took place in East Oakland and the tragic loss of the life of yet another African-American young man, it brought back to memory the recent loss of my cousin Stinson Brown this pass July when he was senselessly gunned down after a friend’s birthday party. No matter what Kevin Rodgers may or may not have done, it does not give anyone the right to take his life. Both my cousin and Kevin Rodgers had their entire lives ahead of them. Stinson was 21 and Kevin only 17, both with the potential to make a difference in the lives of countless people. But now two lives that held so much promise have been tragically cut short. And over what? Pure nonsense!

As much as their loss hurts those of us that knew them, we shouldn’t forget to pray for those that took them from us. While we are all ultimately accountable for our own actions it would be irresponsible for us to ignore the fact that these young men are merely a product of a system that is set up to destroy them – a system that leaves them with no knowledge of who they really are and no understanding of the love that God has for them. Though they created victims, these young men are victims themselves. Hurt people only know how to hurt people.

For those that didn’t know, the criminal trial for the police officer that murdered Oscar Grant has been moved from Oakland down to Southern California in hopes of moving it to a venue where Officer Mehserle can get a “fair” trial. What I find most disturbing is the fact that if the citizens of Oakland didn’t protest Oscar Grant’s murder, Officer Mehserle would have never been charged with his death in the first place. There is also misinformation going around that BART has reached a $1.5 million settlement with the Grant family. What actually happened is that BART reached a settlement with the mother of Oscar Grant’s daughter. His mother who had her son brutally taken away from her has received absolutely NOTHING from BART. I know to a lot of people $1.5 million sounds like a lot of money, but in reality, it really isn’t. Not when you consider the fact that the average American makes between $1.5-2.1 million over the course of their lifetime. So when we take all these things into account, BART’s settlement with just the mother of Oscar Grant’s daughter equates to what he would have made anyway if he was allowed to live out his life instead of having it stolen from him by Officer Mehserle. I believe that the value of a human life is priceless, but the settlement figure of $1.5 million is a spit in the face and is just an example of BART taking advantage of a grieving mother that doesn’t know any better.

The topics that we tackled for this show were a lot to take in all at once. The senseless violence and the lack of justice and accountability stirred up a wide range of emotions. But I can’t help but wonder if maybe some of the blood that was spilled was on our hands as the Church. As Christians aren’t we suppose to be followers of Christ? Would Jesus stand by and do NOTHING as he watches children that are deeply hurting go around an inflict pain and suffering upon themselves and others? Would He remain silent as those who are in power not only fail, but REFUSE to deliver justice to those that need it the most? As members of the body of Christ, it is OUR responsibility to speak out against such injustices; it is OUR responsibility to comfort those that are afflicted. If we refuse to meet the needs and champion the causes of those without a voice, then all we are doing is playin’ church instead of BEING THE CHURCH. Just my two cent.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Uncle Rich permalink
    March 15, 2010 3:53 PM

    hey this is nice I really love the part about stinson and there is no follow up on would you like for us as a chuch community to act…it would be nice to have someone to talk to like the prez but god is where we the end there will still be justice, but it is nice to have someone asking questions just be carefull because all of our sons need love and sometime they just dont get it..also how about you calling the moms of this world and just let them know that someone really care..sometime you have to take the time and be the one to stand up to help someone but you cant help everyone and everyone do not want to be help

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