Sacramento St. memorial to Gary Ferguson Jr.

The day after Berkeley resident Gary Ferguson Jr. was gunned down on a busy section of Sacramento Street, friends and family set up a makeshift shrine in his memory.

Ferguson, 35, was killed around 8:43 am Tuesday Oct. 26 as he walked near Johnson’s House of Style on Sacramento near Russell Street. Another man who cut hair in the barbershop, was also shot, according to his co-workers. He  remains in stable condition at a hospital, according to Berkeley police.

On Wednesday, right in the area where two unknown assailants shot the two men, friends had set up a memorial. There were dozens of lit candles on the sidewalk and signs were tacked up on a fence riddled with bullet holes.

“G-Ferg, you brought a smile to my face every day. Berkeley will never be the same,” wrote one person on a piece of cardboard nailed to the fence.

“I love you Gary, your uncle T-Slick,” said another.

Johnson’s House of Style is a neighborhood hangout and groups of people were gathered Wednesday afternoon discussing the slaying and the violent lives of many young people.

One man said he wasn’t surprised that Ferguson had been shot since he had struggled with drugs and had caused some trouble in the neighborhood. Those comments prompted a larger discussion about how many of the area’s young people seem to live in a world that glorifies violence. They don’t hang out at home with friends or go to a park to play basketball, observed one man. Instead, they strut around town trying to prove how tough they are. Increasingly, being tough means killing people for the slightest reason, according to many of the men in the discussion, who didn’t want their names used.

“It’s in fashion now to be feared, but you can’t just talk fear,” said one man.

“It’s not over drugs,” said another man. “It’s over their own self-esteem and what they are taking pride in. They are taking pride in being violent.”

“There are no rules anymore,” said another man.

Some of the men thought that things have gotten worse since kids spend less time in the parks and more time playing violent shoot ‘em up video games. They have difficulty telling the difference between life and a video game.

“There is no reset button in real life,” one person said.

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...