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Violence Comes Home
For Youth Radio's Mario Hammond, Oakland's violence isn't just in the headlines anymore. It's come home in a tragic way.
By Mario Hammond
Today instead of going to class at a continuation school where he's been getting A's in math, my friend and Youth Radio co-worker is laying in the Intensive Care Unit at Highland Hospital.
On Sunday, 17-year-old Daron Ducote was driving home with his cousins, when a car chased by BART police crashed into them in a neighborhood near the Oakland Coliseum. Daron was thrown through the window, and he landed on a fence in front of a nearby home. He has blood on his brain, which doctors say might cause brain damage. He has a broken collar bone, cuts and gashes across his body, and injuries to his spleen.
At Youth Radio, Daron works on the Boss Of Me campaign to raise awareness about teen dating violence. He has a natural ability to connect with people, which I've always admired. He's one of those people who has so much to say -- and right now I'm praying that he gets more time to say it.
It seems like the violence in Oakland will never stop. Last Friday, right down the street from Youth Radio, 59 year old Tian Sheng Yu was attacked in broad daylight. Crazy thing about it, I was working with Daron that day and we both looked out the window and saw Mr. Yu on the stretcher.
Who would have known that two days later Daron would be in the same Intensive Care Unit as Mr. Yu? And on Tuesday, that Mr. Yu would be removed from life support?
Next time it could be me, or someone else I know. You can try your best to stay out of trouble in Oakland, but somehow violence always finds its way to the innocent. I'm wondering why the police and public officials are failing to keep our streets safe.
Oakland is my first and only home. I have lived here all my life, 19 years to be exact. I can remember a time when Oakland wasn't a war zone, but a source of originality and love for community. I remember when the worst thing that could occur during school was a fist fight.
As of today, I could not honestly tell you that I want to raise a family here. Which is sad, because even with all of the chaos, I still love Oakland to the fullest. But I can't let my child go through what I am going through currently.
With a Perspective, I'm Mario Hammond.