Residents, officials and members of community and religious organizations will walk through West Berkeley on Thursday night to take a stand against violence and remember three men killed in shootings earlier this year.
Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office helped organize the walk in conjunction with Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Berkeley Congregations Organized for Action (BOCA) and other anti-violence groups. Everyone is welcome.
Three of the city’s four homicides this year have taken place in West Berkeley. In February, Zontee Jones, 34, was shot in broad daylight on Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue. In August, on the other side of San Pablo at Delaware, Dustin Bynum, 24, was shot at close range in front of Bing’s Liquors. Then, in September, 22-year-old Anthony Medearis III died in a shooting near Eighth and Camelia streets.
“Our West Berkeley residents are deeply shaken,” wrote Maio in a statement about the walk planned for Thursday, Oct. 3. “I think of this as a broad expression of concern and reclaiming our streets for safety.”
Berkeley’s other 2013 killing, of 26-year-old Jermaine “Third” Davis in July, took place in South Berkeley but was not without ties to the west side of town. A friend of Davis told Berkeleyside that his family has lived in West Berkeley for decades. And many friends of Medearis, the September homicide victim, had, earlier in the year, posted memorial photographs and messages online about Davis’ death, indicating Davis had close ties to the neighborhood. One community member said Medearis attended Davis’ funeral.
In recent years, people who knew him said Davis had become increasingly involved with family life and was helping keep his nephew and other young relatives on a positive path. But when he was younger, authorities said he had been involved with the West Berkeley Waterfront gang, and that he had been targeted in a 2009 attack by North Side Oakland gang members that killed his brother, Charles “Chill” Davis, and two bystanders.
Though the city itself has had only four homicides in 2013, a fifth fatal shooting took place on Grizzly Peak Boulevard outside the city limits in May.
At least two other killings took place this year in Oakland but involved teenagers with deep Berkeley ties. In May, former Berkeley High School student Olajuwon “Tutu” Clayborn was fatally shot in East Oakland. The prior fall, he had transferred for his senior year to Castlemont High, where he was an athlete and reported to be a member of the honor roll. (Many friends who posted online about Davis’ and Medearis’ shootings also referenced Clayborn’s death.)
Just days after Clayborn’s killing, 17-year-old Berkeley High junior Isaac Johnson Jr. was fatally shot in what his father described in a radio broadcast on KPOO 89.5 as a random drive-by in North Oakland. Johnson was killed just over the Berkeley line after stepping off a bus on his way to his grandmother’s house, his father said. The teenager was on life support for two weeks before he was pronounced dead, according to media reports.
View Ceasefire Walk Against Violence, Oct. 3, 2013 in a larger map
The Berkeley Ceasefire Walk Against Violence aims to gives residents a chance to remember the victims, with a moment of silence planned at each location noted in the map above as part of a procession through the neighborhood. The event begins at Good Shepherd, 1823 Ninth St., at 6:30 p.m., and the walk starts at 7 p.m.
Also happening this week, Maio is set to make a request on Tuesday night that the Berkeley City Council schedule a public discussion on gun violence in the city. The item, which is currently on the consent calendar, describes the as-yet-unscheduled event as a session to be organized by several council members, including the mayor, along with community leaders “who have some knowledge of the gun culture and how it manifests in our city.”
Maio wrote that, following this year’s shootings, “Neighbors, particularly in West Berkeley, are alarmed, as are many others, and we want to be able to intervene in a meaningful way, to make the streets safer and to prevent more tragic losses. Some of our community leaders, our pastors and youth workers, are familiar with the cycle of violence and what causes it, including the root causes of poverty, joblessness, and drugs. This proposal intends to bring together community leaders, neighbors, educators, law enforcement, clergy, and youth workers, at a public discussion to look more deeply into gun violence and in particular focus on the prevalence of guns in our community.”
The goal of the meeting, she wrote, would be to create an action plan with the aim of doing “what we can, as a community, to ‘break the cycle’ of gun violence and the tragedies that are left in its wake.”
Maio has held two community meetings this year to bring residents together in the wake of fatalities in her district. She plans to hold a third one Oct. 19 at 2 p.m., also at Good Shepherd.
Maio sent an email to constituents earlier this month announcing plans to work with business owners around Delaware and San Pablo to install surveillance cameras at one property, and ensure code enforcement at Bing’s, outside which one of this year’s fatalities took place, in hopes of increasing safety. She said she is continuing to pursue the closure of a nearby “illegal marijuana dispensary” called Forty Acres.
A desire to find ways to address violence in and around Berkeley has inspired several other events this year as well. In March, Berkeley High School held a school-wide assembly focused on gun violence and gangs. In May, a coalition of groups from the school district, city and a broad range of community organizations held a workshop to create an action plan to address gun violence; the group also met in August and, though on hiatus, plans to resume meeting in November.
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Berkeley Police make arrest in August murder (09.11.13)
Relatives remember Berkeley shooting victim ‘Lil Tone’ (09.10.13)
Man dies after shooting in West Berkeley (09.08.13)
Police identify Berkeley shooting victim (08.05.13)
24-year-old man dies after Berkeley shooting (08.01.13)
Berkeley homicide suspect arrested in San Diego (07.26.13)
2 men named in Berkeley murder case; details emerge (06.19.13)
Berkeley police make arrest in Zontee Jones murder (06.08.13)
Workshop urges action on gun violence around Berkeley (05.29.13)
Berkeley community remembers teen slain in Oakland (05.08.13)
Berkeley High asks youth to fight back against violence (03.08.13)
West Berkeley neighbors ask for answers after homicide (02.20.13)
Police name Zontee Jones as year’s first Berkeley homicide (02.06.13)
Man shot dead in Berkeley, first homicide of 2013 (02.04.13)
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