Monday, March 23, 2009

Interest in Oakland Shootings

I have a little bit of a personal interest in the Oakland shootings because I used to live fairly close to the location of the shootings on 74th and MacArthur Boulevard.

Of course that was back in 1978 and 1979 when I was on my coming-of-age adventure with my then girl friend Susan from North Carolina. We lived at the corner of 10th and 23rd in an apartment building where everybody was African-American except for one other tenant. To put this into the context of my life, I had never even seen a group of African-Americans until my first year in graduate school in 1976. That's how white my upbringing was in upstate NY.

Straight too--1976 was the year I met an out gay person for the first time.

Anyway, now we were living in a 99% black neighborhood in what we thought was a major urban ghetto. We thought we should be scared but the neighborhood looked friendly. So we weren't.

Besides! The rent was cheap, we were broke, and we had already survived a rough warehouse district in Portland with nothing but a couple of interesting stories to tell.

Almost everything on the corner of 10th and 23rd was pretty mundane.

The adjoining streets were crowded with cars and guys were out just about every Saturday washing their cars during the summer. We were sort of hippy like and didn't care that much about appearances but we soon started washing our Honda too after getting some "wash me" hints drawn out on the dust.

We did have a prostitute/heroin addict living next door to us and she had a guy with a rainbow colored Afro wig staying with her. He'd play Barry White music all day while I was in our room (and it was a pretty nice room) reading Freud, Hunter Thompson, and Fustel de Coulange. It wasn't that bad, but I eventually decided to do my reading at the UC-Berkeley library about 10-15 miles away.

Gas was cheap in 1978/79.

What about the cops? I imagine we were like a lot of other people in the neighborhood in thinking of the Oakland cops as more of a menace than anything else. A police helicopter flew over our building at the same time every day. It was intimidating. It was annoying. And I'm pretty sure that's what they wanted to accomplish in our neighborhood--intimidate and annoy.

Being prone to fantasy, I used to daydream about getting a machine gun and shooting the helicopter out of the sky one day.

But I fantasized about a lot of other things in those days.

As for last weekend's shooting, killing four people is a horrible thing to do. I don't know how the family of shooter Lovelle Mixon is going to come to grips with the fact that he did this horrific thing. That seems even more difficult than coping with the sudden death of the officers for their families. Of course, it's all a nightmare.

I can say that I'm surprised that more of the police aren't shot in the United States. Given the volatile brew of aggressive police, an armed public, and the constant throbbing of self-righteous rage, one would think that there would be a lot more police shootings than there are. But people tend to hold back from shooting the cops.

And that's a good thing.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry your post border on insanity. You readily admit you had a prostitute and heroin addict living next door to you. You also believe you should be scared to live in this place at first glance. Obviously there was at least one person breaking the law there.

Yet, you found the police to be an ANNOYANCE and INTIMIDATING! Seriously, Seriously.

You said you daydreamed about killing cops, you realize that's not normal. Following it up with saying killing four people is a horrible thing doesn't make your comments right.

Your entire post is strange and you need to get your head examined.

Ric Caric said...

You'd be surprised about the level of hostility toward the police in this country. Students at my college complain about the campus and town police here and there's a general contempt for the local police in Eastern Kentucky. I haven't seen any research on this topic, but there's a great deal of evidence of police mistreatment of African-Americans and writing on the use of tasers as torture devices.

Anonymous said...

Amazing the way mean police can force African Americans to kill so many of each other isn't it? Now there's a conspiracy.