We first stopped on Park Boulevard to drop off some flyers at the Francis Smith Rec Center (we had visited there on our June 22nd ride) to invite some kids to come on our group ride. Then we headed up on Park to MacArthur. Before we got too far, our sign caught the attention of a guy crossing the street from the new Artists’ Café. When we told him what we were up to, he stopped right there in the middle of the street to talk to us about his confusions about what is East Oakland. According to him, this area is really East Oakland, but most people say it is part of the Lake Merritt District.
In our conversations we have found that a lot of people who live in what many consider to be East Oakland identify with a small neighborhood or community: they say they don't live in East Oakland. It seems to us like people distance themselves from the name East Oakland. And this may be because East Oakland is generally negatively characterized as unsafe and dangerous. A recent New York Times article about crime in East Oakland describes a new policy that the police are now implementing to help repeat offenders turn their lives around:
“There will be enticements in Oakland, not just threats. The authorities will offer social services, including job training, help with substance abuse and educational opportunities to help increase the odds that suspects do not return to the criminal world. Such services are already offered to offenders, but Operation Cease-Fire will make them much more readily available.”
Read here for an incisive criticism of Mayor Brown’s track record in dealing with Oakland’s violent crime.
Below is a pretty disturbing map showing where murders have taken place in Oakland (March, 2006). According to the SF Chronicle article, most of the homocides have taken place in East Oakland: "The slayings happened from North Oakland to the San Leandro border, leaving virtually no part of the city unscathed but for the Oakland hills and the neighborhoods surrounding Lake Merritt -- although that area has seen a rash of robberies that have some residents on edge." The number of homocide victims is now at 89 and sadly, every one out of three who has been murdered is a youth under the age of twenty.