Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Death in Oakland

So, for the past couple of weeks, I seem to have had the death/funeral beat at work. There have been lots of deaths in Oakland lately - currently, the number of homicides for this year is about 12 higher than it was at this time last year. That's pretty scary. At each scene that I've been to, all the people there had no objections to my presence, but in fact, wanted to make sure that pictures got in the paper.

The photos below are of a shrine set up for a man the day after he'd been shot, supposedly gang-related, in West Oakland. A picture of the man was taped to an empty tequila bottle. For me, the saddest part was when I was talking to his friends and family, asking them how they felt, and their immediate response was that they were glad he was shot because now he was in a better place. When has life become so bad that death is a better alternative?

The photos below are from a funeral for Casper Banjo who, at 71, was a well-respected artist in the local community. He was fatally shot by the Oakland Police Department in March after police said they saw him waving what looked like a gun at them. All of Banjo's friends and family members said he was a peaceful man who would never do something like that.

I attended a funeral for two brothers: Junior and Freddie Taylor who died in a house fire in Oakland. They were the remaining two children of Carrie Taylor, 85, who has buried all five of her children. Ms. Taylor also lost her house, which she'd lived in for 45 years, in the fire.

This photo is from a shooting in East Oakland. A man was fatally shot in a drive-by while he was riding his bike.

Photos by Alison Yin

No comments: