Oakland, the 2nd Most Murderous City in California Behind Compton

Violent Deaths in Oakland

Oakland is the second most murderous city in the state of California behind Compton. The SF Chronicle is running a series of articles about murder in Oakland, why and how it is happening and stories behind some of the murders and victims. According to the Chronicle, in the last 5 years 557 people have been murdered in Oakland. The murder victims seem to be known and targeted by the murderers and an undercurrent of drug dealing, drug gangs and families, revenge and petty arguments seem to play parts in the city’s high murder rate.

It is painful to read stories about the plight of Oakland and what is happening to young men growing up in a dysfunctional world, but hopefully journalism like this can push more serious work needed to help stop the violence in Oakland.

Although I’ve never been the victim of violent crime in Oakland, I’ve witnessed violent crime in Oakland. I saw a woman attacked just outside the West Oakland BART station and her purse taken. I’ve also experienced my fair share of nuisance crime. My car has been broken into four times parking near the West Oakland BART station and subsequently I don’t park there anymore. Our immediate next door neighbor had their house burglarized. They also had a car stolen. More recently there was a home invasion robbery at another home on our street. I woke up one Sunday morning with an Oakland SWAT team and dozens of cops in the street in front of my house.

I’ve volunteered for the past 10 years with an organization that raises money for at risk youth. Much of the money raised goes to help poor kids in Oakland and other Bay Area communities by providing them youth programs and scholarships for private school when the public schools have failed them. Although it’s just a small way to try and make the situation better, at least it’s something.

I’m not sure really what the answer is though. I’m not sure how you break generational cycles of violence and poverty to break through and clean up the streets of Oakland. It’s hard and it’s heartbreaking.

Oakland has so much going for it. I was optimistic about the town when Jerry Brown was mayor. Hopeful that some of his youth programs around military school and the arts might have an impact. Hopeful that something could be done about the crime.

Here is an interactive map of where people have been killed over the past 5 years in Oakland. Oakland, a Plague of Killing coverage here.

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4 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    How ungodly. I guess that’s kind of obvious.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh America…
    a) ban firearms
    b) hey presto…

  3. CrazySanMan says:

    Don’t get me wrong, this is tragic. But I don’t understand why Oakland has suddenly beengetting a lot of press about this. In the past 3 years, Baltimore has had 809 homicides. Baltimore is about 50% larger than Oakland, but has about a 150% rate of homicides per 100,000 people. Baltimore has 10x the homicide rate of NYC and 3x the rate of LA. By comparison, Baltimore and Boston are roughly the same population. Baltimore has 270 murders to date, Boston has 65. Where is the outrage for Baltimore?

  4. Austin says:

    CrazySanMan, I think there is outrage for Baltimore. CNN had a thing in 2005 saying it’s the 2nd most dangerous in the country for cities over 500k. I personally associate Baltimore with drug related murder, and there’s a reason the show Homicide: Life on the Street was set there (the rate has decreased quite a bit in recent years though).

    But this story is from the San Francisco Chronicle. And even Thomas’ headline says “2nd Most.. in California,” not compared to the nation. Ranking just behind Compton says there’s a problem, whether or not that compares to Maryland, and it seems like an important thing for a local paper to cover. Perhaps there is a lot of national press I’m not aware of, but it seems like it’s mostly local reporting.