Thousands march to stop Oakland’s violence

The Associated Press
Monday July 15, 2002

Thousands converged on Oakland’s city hall Saturday to protest the violence that has seized the city. 

So far 55 people have been killed in Oakland this year, compared with 40 last year. Officials fear that by the end of the year, the death toll could reach triple digits for the first time in five years. 

Groups marched from north, east and west Oakland to city hall in the March for Peace, which was sponsored by more than 70 churches and community groups. 

A conference called Release the Peace was also held to discuss the problems and hold workshops on issues such as anger management, male responsibility and promoting nonviolent solutions to disputes. 

“The key thing is — this is a real concern at our conference — is to be able to prevent and to be able to catch some of the young people who do want help,” said the Rev. Brondon Reems, conference organizer and pastor at Center of Hope Church in East Oakland. “We have powerful programs in the city of Oakland, all kinds of service providers, but the bottom line is no one is making the connection.” 

Most of the city’s murder victims this year have been black. Organizers said the march was a way to show the city’s youth that there are alternatives to violent lifestyles. 

“So many of us have gone to sleep. Too many of us have become complacent, and while we sleep our children die. So this is a wake up call my brothers and sisters,” Congresswoman Barbara Lee told the crowd. “We march today to wake up our community. To let our voices be heard and saying we will not tolerate anymore ruthless killing!”