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Oakland teens shocked by police killings

Posted Apr 29 2009

Unity High School students expressed sadness, anger and indifference after four police officers and an East Oakland man were shot and killed on March 21, about a dozen blocks from school.-By Gabrielle Cabarloc, Karina Gonzalez, Brisa Padilla and Dolores Quintana / Unity High

While this article is a bit old by internet standards, the larger issues haven't gone anywhere. First appearing in The Oaktown Teen Teams, his particular article went national, which is quite an accomplishment for 9th graders! On the second page I also included comments from an Oakland police officer, whose quotes didn't make the article due to space limitations.

A Unity student witnessed two Oakland police officers stop Lovelle Mixon, 26, as well as what happened next. The student, a freshman, asked that his name not be used.

"I was inside, and I heard sirens," said the student, who lives two blocks away from 73rd Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, where Mixon was pulled over by Oakland police officers for a traffic violation.

"I went outside, and I saw two police motorcycles, and there was a black car in front," the student said. "Two minutes later, I heard shooting ... I saw that there were two cops on the ground."

"One of them was lying on the motorcycle and he was dead, I guess, and one of them was on the ground and (the blood) was pouring down the curb."

Sgt. Mark Dunakin and Officer John Hege were later pronounced dead.

After two hours, the student said, the police department’s tactical squad appeared and officers surrounded a building where Mixon was hiding in his sister’s apartment.

Two more police officers were shot. "I saw the bodies get carried out," said the student, 14. "One of them got shot in the chest … he was bleeding but he was still alive. They put him on the armored truck and took him away."

Sergeants Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai died, and Mixon was shot dead by police.

The student says he cannot get the images out of his mind. "I was scared," he said. "I saw people get killed."

Students who didn’t see the murders also were shaken.

"Imagine how the family of the loved ones feels about this tragedy," said Morgaan Wiliams, 15, a sophomore. "My heart dropped when I heard what had just occurred."

"I was shocked," said Alicia Mirijunio, 18, a senior. "We as a community should move in a positive way and not be negative and kill more officers."

But other students disagreed. Josue Carillo, 18, a junior, said Mixon showed "courage," adding that "white officers specifically are always racist with Latinos and African-American people."

"I really do not have a soft spot (for the police)," said Raven Thomas, 16, a sophomore. She said that Oscar Grant "is the only innocent murdered civilian that has been really taken seriously.

"It may sound hard-hearted, but I feel it was bound to come their way," Thomas said of the shootings.

"I really don’t care about what happened because it has nothing to do with me," said Aracely Garcia, 16, a junior. "So what if the policemen got shot? I never see them make a big deal over the death of a little boy or anyone else that gets shot."

In the end, students agreed that Oakland needs to pull together and move forward.

The slayings "really drive home the reminder that we need to improve relations with the police here in Oakland," said Unity Principal David Castillo. "(I) also think about the options, or lack of (options), that young people have after dropping out of school, as well as opportunities for parolees when they are released."

At Unity, students can take an Introduction to Administration of Justice class, where they are exposed to career opportunities in law enforcement.

Teacher Margaret Dixon, who retired from the Oakland police force in 2004, said that the killings teach that Oakland must change.

"It’s been said, through every tragedy, something good has to come out of something bad," Dixon said. "And if four officers had to get shot, then we have to accept it."

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