Gang member arrested in Berkeley shooting

Doran Williams, Jr.

An Oakland man who was wanted in connection with the shooting of two people sitting in a car in South Berkeley in May was arrested Wednesday night.

Oakland police officers arrested Doran Williams Jr.  after a brief foot chase. They had spotted Williams in a motel in Richmond and had followed him by car to Oakland. Williams fled from the car, and was arrested immediately.

Williams, 27, was charged with one count of attempted murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. He is being held in the Berkeley jail and will be arraigned today.

Williams is suspected of shooting a 39-year old man and 57-year-old woman as they sat in a car around 11 am on May 20 in the 1700 block of 63rd Street. Both of the victims were seriously injured. Their names were not released.

Berkeley police said Williams is a member of the North Oakland Bushrod gang that call themselves “Cold Gunnaz,” or “Bushrod Cold Gunnaz 59.”

It is one of a number of gangs in north Oakland that are involved in an ongoing Oakland/Berkeley feud. The other Oakland gangs include the Gaskill Maniacs, ASAP/FT, 600 The 6 and 6100, police told the Oakland Local website.

Berkeley police are still investigating whether the shooting is related to the border feud. They also do not know if there is a connection between the May 20 shooting and June 3 murder of Kenneth Jerome Tims, Jr. , who was shot around 6 pm as he was walking in the area of King and 62nd street.

The Oakland city attorney recently won court permission to file an injunction against 15 members of the Northside Oakland gang. The legal maneuver prohibits the gang members from congregating in public.

Williams was not one of those targeted in legal papers, but his name does appear in court documents as someone who associates with the north Oakland gang.

Williams grew up in Berkeley.

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  • Mike

    Please keep us posted as this case moves forward.

  • laura menard

    The Oakland injunction is displacing some of north Oakland gang activity into south Berkeley. Some of the guys hanging around the memorial on King/62nd are NSO and other affiliates. All these neighborhood based gangs come under the umbrella of the Kumi 415 prison gang, evolving from the Black Guerrilla Family BGF or 2.7.6.

    Last night council member Anderson invited Chief Meehan and city manager Kamlarz to discuss public safety and budget issues. While we are please with the intelligence and direct manner of our new chief and the fact that he is shaking up the dept increasing accountability and operational capacity. However most of us were less than satisfied with the answers we got last night from all the public officials about the gang displacement, the city deciding to not enforce the memorial policy, police staffing levels, and budgeting. We have made major sacrifices and worked very hard over a decade to get some reasonable gains in controlling the gang problem, and are not willing to endure a summer of fear, shootings and homicides by rival gangs.

  • Laura, can you email me directly?

  • Ms. Menard,

    Can you cite any evidence that the street memorial policy would be an effective measure in crime fighting? For example, studies of municipalities where similar bans reduced crime levels? I’ve been looking for some and I can’t find any.

  • s z underwood

    Mr. Lord:

    There seems to be little doubt that so-called street memorials do sometimes become targets for retaliatory shooting or other aimless violence. You are actually asking someone to prove a negative which is essentially impossible in criminology. General overview of the issues:

    Some specific local cases:

    Basulto and Arandia-Soto drove to the block Sunday night apparently looking for the ex-girlfriend, Van Sloten said. They saw her and her new boyfriend with other people at a street memorial for Villasenor and stopped the car, Van Sloten said.

    As the woman and her boyfriend approached the car, Soto-Estrada began shooting at them, badly wounding the boyfriend, Van Sloten said.

    Then, Van Sloten said, at least one other person at the memorial began shooting at the car, wounding Soto-Estrada and Basulto. They drove off and ended up a short time later at a hospital, where Basulto was pronounced dead and Soto-Estrada was hospitalized for his wounds.

    Stray bullet hits sleeping woman in head
    Drive-by shooting was at memorial for earlier victim
    OAKLANDApril 09, 2008|By Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer

    An Oakland woman was clinging to life Tuesday after a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting tore through her bedroom wall and pierced her head while she slept.

    Shanice Davis, 22, is in grave condition at a local hospital after the midnight shooting, which happened during a street memorial for an Oakland murder victim killed three years ago, police and neighbors said.

    Three men at the memorial were also struck by gunfire. All three were in stable condition and expected to recover, Oakland police Officer Roland Holmgren said.

  • Mr. Underwood,

    I’m afraid your citations don’t support your case and that you also have a mistake in your reasoning.

    It is undisputed that some street shrines become new crime scenes. It is undisputed that some municipalities have chosen to crack down on these.

    The reasonable questions before us are different: Do shrines per se increase the crime risk at their location? (This is an objective and quantifiable question – the stories you cite don’t answer it.) If so, does a 48 hour limit or other policy have any significant impact on reducing that risk? (This is an objective and quantifiable question…) Do such policies have any impact on local crime rates overall? (Ditto.) What is the cost of enforcing such policies? (Ditto.) What alternative uses of those resources exist that might be more effective? (This is an open ended analytic question.)

    Suppose that we had perfect enforcement of a 48-hour limit on street shrines. Overnight, that just happened. What impact do you envision beyond street shrines being limited to 48 hours?

  • laura menard

    Beyond the obvious deterrent to gang activity, how about some basic civic fairness applied, such as, event permit, liquor license for serving on a public right a way etc. Let the mourners apply for a permit as per BMC code and comply with conditions of the permit use.

    By the way, the young mother/daughter in Oakland died after being shot in her bed.

    Changing social norms as to manner folks traditional grieve in order to adapt to glorifying the death culture of gangs seems mighty stupid to me.

    I had a close friend murdered over drug money owed on E 14th, we did not place a memorial at the site of the stomping, nor did make contact with all the witnesses who chose to stay silent out of fear. I helped the family organize a healing ritual in Joaquin Miller park attended by close to 350 Le Conte school families, it was beautiful and we grieved, we did not glorify the ugliness of drug culture and the brutal way he died, we respected his wholeness.

    I will stop there, but I have plenty of stories from my years in south Berkeley and Thomas you will never convince me there is any good from street shrines. NEVER, I have seen too much violence and I know exactly how it works. Murder creates another murder.

    As a asked those that support shrines, will you agree to a gun free zone?
    No answer……..

  • laura menard

    Need that edit button, I was typing fast while talking to my kid on the phone, meant to type

    Changing social norms from the manner folks traditional grieve (home and church) in order to adapt to glorifying the death culture of gangs seems mighty stupid to me.

  • s z underwood

    Sorry, I don’t see any reasonable questions at all. Imagine that you interdict street memorials at a violent crime scene either after 48 hrs. or altogether. How do you “prove” that a potential crime has been prevented or deterred thereby? According to you, even the fact that numerous shootings have taken place at impromptu street memorials does not constitute evidence that these memorials are a magnet for further criminal acts.

    No, the questions you pose are neither “objective” nor readily “quantifiable.” There are too many intangibles and variables in the dynamics of crime to make this into an exactly quantifiable equation. I understand the appeal of turning every issue into a philosophical or logical conundrum to ponder, in which you generally cast yourself as the dispassionate Socratic figure, but I fear you sometimes (often?) fail to see the forest for the trees.

    Local police departments and local community members and activists use their experience and judgment to assess the risks that these street memorials pose to instigating further violence based on past experience.

    A similar issue has arisen around “sideshow” gatherings mostly in East Oakland. Both the police and many people who live in the vicinity of these sideshows (90th & Bancroft) seem to feel strongly that these [illegal] street gatherings are a catalyst for more violence. There is no way to prove beyond doubt that the shootings, fatal accidents, stabbings, beatings and other violence are “CAUSED” by the sideshows. Maybe the violent acts are aberrations or merely appear to be connected (falsely) to sideshow crowds. Maybe sideshows are just fun, harmless gatherings after all?

    Why don’t you do us a favor and the next time you hear about a street memorial for a violent crime victim going up in South Berkeley or West Oakland, stand vigil for a couple of days and report back on Berkeleyside in depth what you observed? Interview people, gather evidence and then let us know if these memorials are harmless shrines or not from your own direct experience of them.

  • Lararian

    Good article and indeed indicitive of the terror on our streets but why put his picture up? Why add flames to the fires of racism.? Take it down and make a stand as others have. Peace.

  • I put the picture up because it is a much better one than the last one distributed by the Berkeley police department. Frankly, the one the department sent out when Williams was at large was much more “criminal-like.” Even though Williams is accused of serious crimes, I thought this picture made him look more respectable.

  • Ms. Menard,

    I don’t wish to take up the specific tragic incidents that you mention because they range from anecdotal to highly personal.

    I do wish to take up these points:

    Originally, you complained that the police were not aggressively stamping out street shrines. My question was and remains what evidence there is that such a policy is an effective means of contributing to the security of the community. I went looking for some, expecting to find some. I found none. There are other police tactics for which there is plenty of supporting evidence. There are tactics which get rejected in the face of negative evidence. All that I could find regarding street shrines are anecdotes of events that happen near them, and criticism that there is no empirical support for enforcing against them to enhance public security.

    You also mention “traditional” grieving, namely “home and church”. As nearly as I can tell, this is a quite narrow and culturally biased view of “tradition”. I seem to remember street shrines being a part of the fabric of community life since I was a child and I’m sure they were not an innovation then. Nor are they the only example of grieving events that attract follow-on or retributive violence – funerals and church services are another example.

    Given that a small number of major jurisdictions have made vague efforts to crack down on street shrines over the past many years, it seems odd to me that no researcher I could find has conducted a study of the degree to which they do or do not represent a threat. In any event, characterizing them as a break from “tradition” seems trivially false.

    You also mention issues of basic fairness – e.g., enforcing liquor control laws against such things as the leaving of bottles at these sites. That’s quite fair but it is also quite a bit removed from questions of police priorities and whether these shrines are or are not a priority threat.

  • Mr. Underwood,

    You pose the question:

    Imagine that you interdict street memorials at a violent crime scene either after 48 hrs. or altogether. How do you “prove” that a potential crime has been prevented or deterred thereby? According to you, even the fact that numerous shootings have taken place at impromptu street memorials does not constitute evidence that these memorials are a magnet for further criminal acts.

    You can look at various measurable quantities. You can develop maps over time of the locations of street shrines, crime locations, and compute the strength of correlation. You can examine the experience of cities that preceded us by quite a few years in shrine crackdowns and examine their changes in overall crime rate. You can also develop a reasonable characterization of other spontaneous convening phenomenon and compare those to street shrines. On and on. Honestly, policing as we know it now would not be nearly as effective as it is but for just such kinds of studies.

    It’s both (now) customary and part of the long process that slowly dragged law enforcement out of the stone ages to look at matters in such a way. Remember that Berkeley itself has some measure of historical claim to being the birthplace of “scientific policing”.

    Local police departments and local community members and activists use their experience and judgment to assess the risks that these street memorials pose to instigating further violence based on past experience.

    Quite right. Statistical mojo is not (by far) all that they do but it is a critical and large part of what they do. In the case at hand, the judgment of local law enforcement has been to set the level of street shrine enforcement at a level that a community member, Ms. Menard, thinks is wrong. Hmm. How do we evaluate the two positions? At that point I think we have to start looking for objective ways to compare strategies. This is in contrast to giving anecdotes or name calling.

    Why don’t you do us a favor and the next time you hear about a street memorial for a violent crime victim going up in South Berkeley or West Oakland, stand vigil for a couple of days and report back on Berkeleyside in depth what you observed? Interview people, gather evidence and then let us know if these memorials are harmless shrines or not from your own direct experience of them.

    There are numerous flaws in your proposed study methodology that are probably not worth rehearsing here. That aside…

    The most recent shooting in my own neighborhood was directly in front of my building. The previous was a few blocks away on San Pablo. Another in recent memory was the shooting up of a building around corner (no injuries). That was preceded by a shooting in which an innocent bystander was injured in connection to a spontaneous grieving gathering – no street shrine involved. I interact with “the street” in my neighborhood daily and while I’m sure I don’t know everything I do have some sense of the dynamics in play. I’ve had some long discussions with folks from some of the rougher parts of Oakland and even hung out there a bit (although my friends rather strongly discourage much of this for my safety). I have just barely enough “street smarts” to have learned fairly well to know when I’m street dumb or street in over my head. I have some sense of “what’s what,” probably (sorry to presume) more than you.

    My own sense of street shrines? (Thanks for asking.) I think that there’s a tiny subset of them where, if you’re close to the situation on the ground, you can probably call it: that one is going to attract trouble. Much, much harder is calling how serious the trouble will be.

    In fact, your suggestion for how I ought to go study street shrines? I think you suggest, by accident, a plausible policing strategy – sorta. Suppose (and it’s a big “if”) you have beat cops that kinda sorta know the neighborhood and they have a bad feeling about a particular shrine (or other spontaneous, focused, sustained reaction to a violent crime). That’s perhaps a fine reason for open (not undercover) law enforcement ambassadors to have some presence and interaction there. Never know what you might learn.

  • laura menard


    You frequently twist what people say, it makes me question your sincerity.

    Public works usually cleans up a memorial not the police after the family is notified and removes what pieces they wish to keep.

    Second error, the liquor bottles are not a violation, hosting an event on the sidewalk without a permit violates the BMC.

  • laura menard


    I do not have the patience or TIME to sort out your misuse of tactical versus strategic, crime prevention versus enforcement methods and explain the status of data analysis capability currently in BPD which is so poor we could not justify the looking for any finding you are suggesting.

    What is your address? I can post it so “mourners” will find a friendly spot to use if we are so unlucky to see beat 12 return to the bad old days when SSB and even WSB would use Old King Liquors to host a gathering for every homicide victim ever affiliated SSB murdered in Richmond, Oakland of Modesto.

    Preventing corners from gang control requires a comprehensive strategy which obviously includes LIMITING the time a memorial is allowed to remain following a gang hit. Any property owner can host the mourners as long as they wish, we want our public streets and sidewalks to remain safe for residents.

    In Beat 12 for the first time in over 20 years residents are expressing how different it feels without street wars ever summer and how happy they are about it. The changes have nothing to do with “gentrification” as the ideologues pretend.

  • laura menard

    Reality check for any one confused about gang culture:

    (06-23) 08:23 PDT OAKLAND —

    A woman was killed and five teenagers were wounded early today at a West Oakland vigil for an East Oakland homicide victim, police said.

    Rachael Green, 19, died after she and the other victims were shot in a parking lot of the Acorn housing complex on the 1100 block of Eighth Street at about midnight, police said.

    Two people approached the group of about 30 people and fired dozens of shots at them without warning, said Oakland homicide Sgt. Jim Rullamas.

    Green died at Highland Hospital shortly after 12:45 a.m. Five other people, a 14-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy, a 15-year-old boy, a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old man, were injured in the shooting, Rullamas said.

    The 14-year-old girl was shot in the upper body, and the 16-year-old boy was hit in the buttocks, police said. Both underwent surgery and are expected to survive, authorities said. The three others suffered relatively minor injuries and took themselves to hospitals. The injured victims’ names weren’t released.

    The group had gathered for a candlelight vigil for 17-year-old Damon Williams of Oakland, who was shot and killed late Monday afternoon at a bus stop just steps from the police substation on 73rd Avenue in East Oakland.

    The shooting at a makeshift memorial for Williams happened “only minutes after a patrol officer conducted a security check of the area,” said Officer Jeff Thomason, an Oakland police spokesman.

    “It’s tragic,” said Rullamas, adding that police seem to be seeing more shootings at vigils and memorials than in years past. “I don’t remember it happening like this in years past, and now it happens frequently. It’s a shame.”

    The victims from the West Oakland shooting were shot near the same spot where police union leaders had addressed the media Monday morning to warn that crime could become epidemic if the city considers laying off 80 to 150 officers to help eliminate a $30.5 million budget deficit.

    Leaders of the Oakland Police Officers Association had picked the corner of Eighth and Adeline streets for their press conference because it was where 43-year-old James Johnson was shot to death June 6.

    The latest burst of violence in West Oakland came a day after three men approached Williams while he was at the bus stop, and one of them shot him during an argument, Thomason said.

    Police Capt. Ersie Joyner spotted Ricardo DePalm, 18, running from the scene to 69th Avenue, where he was arrested at his home, police said. A witness identified DePalm as being involved in the shooting, investigators said.

    DePalm is being held without bail at a downtown Oakland jail on suspicion of murder. He is to appear in Alameda County Superior Court on Thursday pending the filing of charges by prosecutors.

    Williams had finished his junior year at Ralph J. Bunche High School in West Oakland, said Troy Flint, Oakland Unified School District spokesman. DePalm had completed his junior year at Leadership Preparatory High School in East Oakland in June 2009 but did not return for his senior year, Flint said.

  • s z underwood


    Any chance you took my suggestion posted above to heart and were standing vigil last night at the Acorn Housing Complex towards midnight? If so, please report!

    Allow me to quote you…

    “My own sense of street shrines? (Thanks for asking.) I think that there’s a tiny subset of them where, if you’re close to the situation on the ground, you can probably call it: that one is going to attract trouble. Much, much harder is calling how serious the trouble will be.”

  • Ms. Menard and Mr. Underwood,

    You’ll be gratified, I’m sure, to learn that while the first round of shooting did occur in public streets, the shootings which caused injury and death occurred only after the vigil was moved onto private (indeed, gated) property.

    It would appear that the social scourge which you want to disrupt is not so much street shrines as it is “congregating while black”.

    In any event, let us suppose as a thought experiment that, at no cost to the city, street shrines were completely and successfully eliminated, starting tomorrow. No more street shrines.

    Do either of you honestly believe that crimes like this one will in any way be eliminated?

    And then, keep in mind, enforcement against street shrines is not free (and also not particularly good for community relations).

  • Ms. M, Mr. U.:

    You know, that really takes the cake. Neither of you have a word of condemnation for the criminals who would shoot up a candlelight vigil yet each are quick to gloat how the victims in this case were wrong to gather in memorial and how this just “proves you right”. Blame the victims. It is obscene, irrational, and thinly veiled racism. Yes, Mr. Underwood, you succeeded in getting under my skin.

  • laura menard


    Enough already, you have now insulted me beyond repair, I am never GRATIFIED to learn about YET another incident of violence among youth.

    I did not read past your 1st statement of utter nonsense……

  • s z underwood


    It’s exactly because Laura and I (and many others) actually care about the victims of violent crime and the attendant circumstances that often foment it that we argue for a restriction of these types of (misnamed) street memorials (and for more aggressive and sensible policing of these neighborhoods in general).

    From my perspective at least, you are the one who DEHUMANIZES the victims by constantly looking at the issue much more abstractly and philosophically — as some sort of free speech, civil rights issue (“or the right of the people peaceably to assemble”) in which you can play the stoic internet rhetorician.

    Finally, you should really be careful throwing around the “racism” charge at people you don’t know and have never met. You really have no idea what you’re talking about… You not only cheapen and demean instances of real racism by mis/overuse of the charge, but you also make a fool of yourself in the process.

  • Mr. Underwood,

    I don’t view the issue “as some sort of free speech, civil rights issue (“or the right of the people peaceably to assemble”) in which [I] can play the stoic internet rhetorician.”

    Certainly, there are constitutional issues at play here but those are not my main focus. And no, I’m not just playing the pedant.

    Here we had a community gathered in mourning, holding a candlelight vigil, who were fired upon. Having been fired upon, not wanting to give up this moment of mutual support in the community, they moved the vigil. There, they were fired upon again, this time with injuries and a death. To this set of circumstances you react by advocating for the criminalization of the actions of the victims. The mind boggles.

    As for racism: I stand, unashamed, behind my statements.

  • laura menard

    “congregating while black”, laughable if is wasn’t so tragically stupid.

    reminds me of the similar attempt to neutralize any criticism of officials’ complacency about truants hanging on BHS campus during class time. Supporters of truants described the effort to contact black teens truant on campus as

    “hanging out while black”

    The man behind that pervasion of meaning was a lazy do nothing safety officer, one of the Bey brothers, he was on BUSD payroll despite felony convictions for assault and kidnapping. While on the job
    “hanging out as a safety officer” he primary activity was hustling truant young ladies.

  • Berkeleyite

    @Thomas, to reframe your earlier query about memorials/vigils & violence, did you see this morning’s SFGATE article about 1 Woman shot dead at a memorial/vigil last night?

  • Ms. Menard,

    If I understand you correctly you are equivocating BHS truants with people attending a candlelight vigil, and equivocating me with an allegedly corrupt safety officer with felony convictions. That about right?

    What you continue to fail to respond to is skepticism that enforcement against street shrines would be an effective law enforcement technique. That is the question you raised in the first place.

  • laura menard

    Thomas Lord = straw man

    Debating around a straw man

    Strictly speaking, there are three ways to deal with a straw man setup in a debate:

    1. Using the terms of the straw man and refuting the theory itself. (Note: A weakness of this retort is that agreeing to use the terminology of the opponent may deflect the debate to a secondary one about the opponent’s assumptions).
    2. Clarifying the original theory. This may involve explicitly pointing out the straw man. In the example above, such a response might be: I said relax laws on beer but nothing about other stronger intoxicants.
    3. Questioning the disputation.

  • Berkeleyite,

    Yup, that’s what Ms. Menard and Mr. (I think – “Mr.” although I’m not sure how I got that impression – might be “Ms.”) Underwood got into around the time of your comment.

    My understanding from reports of the event is that a candlelight vigil was exposed to gunfire, then it moved inside a gated area, then it got shot up again resulting in injuries and death. Horrible, of course.

    The debate, if it passes as such, between myself, Ms. M. and Mr. U. is over the question of social and policing policy. Is or is not enforcing against street shrines a wise idea. I’m afraid this particular exchange hasn’t shed much light on the pro-enforcement side and that I failed to provoke a productive exchange and instead succeeded in creating bad feelings all around. So it goes.

  • s z underwood


    In your latest comment, you aptly noted, “…I failed to provoke a productive exchange…” This may be the beginning of some real self-awareness on your end. I encourage you to pursue this question further: how often do you either provoke or contribute to a “productive exchange” on Berkeleyside with all of your point by point caviling and endless filibustering? To adjudicate this important question, seek outside council if possible (friends, wife, shrink etc.). Remember a wise, but ultimately nefarious philosopher once noted:

    “We are unknown to ourselves, we men of knowledge–and with good reason. We have never sought ourselves–how could it happen that we should ever find ourselves? . . . So we are necessarily strangers to ourselves, we do not comprehend ourselves, we have to misunderstand ourselves, for us the law “Each is furthest from himself” applies to all eternity–we are not “men of knowledge” with respect to ourselves.”

    For the most part, in my view, you seem to indulge these sorts of questions mainly to be argumentative and not in service of some real productive purpose. Therefore, I am generally unable to muster the necessary time or energy to engage you ad nauseum (I can’t be alone in this predicament on Berkeleyside?). If I were to actually respond to all of your points and observations one by one “to the bitter end,” I am fairly certain that I would not be able to pursue my remunerative labor. In that case, I would be leaving my spouse as the sole breadwinner of the household which would quite likely necessitate losing our home in favor of a grungy, rent-controlled apartment, possibly on San Pablo Ave. near a cannabis outlet. Then, I think, I might have the leisure time to treat Berkeleyside comment boards as a type of Oxford debating society in which I would attempt to “outkeyboard” you and all other comers.

    In the meantime, I strongly suggest that you put yourself on a three week “Twitter” diet as part of seeking a cure to this insidious malady which I am tentatively terming “Lord Keyboard Syndrome”. In closing, if I may paraphrase the possibly apocryphal words of the Emperor Franz Josef to Mozart, “Too many words, my dear Lord…”

  • Hey, I found something potentially helpful:

    In 2007 a fellow calling himself “Nic B.” did a project in which he visited and photographed the sites of all(?) victims of violent killings on the streets of Oakland. Each photograph is labeled with a location. Where street shrines were present, he photographed those.

    With some data entry from his blog (link below) and analysis against crime statistics for Oakland 2007, we might yet be able to study the street shrine question quantitatively.
    “Oakland Makeshift Memorials 2007”

    p.s. to underwood: You have kind of a pattern going in your exchanges with or about the Berkeley Daily Planet, Breneham, Brechin, etc. You get to a certain point then fall back on ad hominems styled in purple prose. Got it. As for your advice to question myself and seek out third parties to look over my shoulder here – you know, I do that pretty regularly long before your prompting. To adapt the old song lyric: don’t ask me what they think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to.

  • Maureen Burke

    An Oakland PD spokesman was interviewed on KCBS radio yesterday afternoon (6/23) about the recent memorial shooting. He said the Oakland police always tried to maintain a presence at the memorials but didn’t have the manpower to do so. He described the street memorials as homicide magnets and said the Oakland police wanted to be able to remove them as soon as they were built, in the interests of public safety.

  • s z underwood

    Thank you for your information, Maureen. Thomas Lord, as he notes above, is busy constructing an elaborate social science study to explore the validity of this causation. Whatever his final findings, I trust he will let us know at great length and in microscopic detail.

    What remains an inscrutible mystery, whatever Lord’s findings, is who he believes will be influenced by his analysis?

  • Ms. Burke,

    Any insight on one thing that puzzles me? Suppose by magic all street shrines were gone as soon as they’re laid – that issue is gone. Won’t folks still congregate (although perhaps at harder to predict spots) and won’t that attract exactly the same kind of crime associated with shrines? This notion that shrines attract violent crime seems like coded speech for something that has no deep logical connection to shrines. (Another thing that puzzles me is if these sites really are or not magnets for violent crimes in a statistically significant way – a question that nobody, in any of the cities with similar policies, appears to have investigated in any documented way — with that blog of crimes sites from 2007 we finally having a starting point to look at hard data. Another that puzzles me is the lack of attention to the question of whether, on balance, the shrines contribute more to peace or more to violent crime.)

  • s z underwood

    p.s. To T.L., at the risk of offending or disappointing you, I must confess that I do not classify you in any respect with the pantheon of scoundrels you cited above (whom I am proud to malign). I regard you as a basically benign, kindhearted, hyper-inquisitive, generally well-meaning, but sometimes needlessly querulous and often overbearing figure on this forum.

    Speaking here of you not as a real person – only your online persona – you remind me above all of a latter day Wilkins Micawber figure ( Add to that a small dash of 21st cent. Caractacus Potts plus a heavy dose of Mr. Spock (from Star Trek, not Dr. Spock): the perfectly dispassionate, always logical (by nature), fact-oriented analyst and I think you gain a sense of Thomas Lord’s strong internet persona.

    I do not venture to associate this online persona with your real person as I have never had the pleasure of making your acquaintance. And as John Edwards and more recently Al Gore have aptly demonstrated, one’s online or public persona is often in stark contrast to the person your wife and close friends may be acquainted with. From their vantage point, for aught I know, you may be more “Bones” than “Spock”!


    S. Z.

  • s z underwood

    Not to flog a dead horse or resurrect a tired thread, but from today’s local news:

    Two shot during vigil for victim of weekend shooting
    By: Kamala Kelkar
    Examiner Staff Writer
    June 29, 2010
    Stephen Powell (Examiner file photo)

    Two men were shot during a vigil in the Bayview for 19-year-old Stephen Powell, who was shot and killed during The City’s packed Pink Saturday celebration during Gay Pride weekend.

    The gathering was near the intersection of Third Street and Quesada Avenue, where gunshots were fired around 8 p.m. and the two men — both in their 20s — were hit, according to police.

    A friend drove them to San Francisco General Hospital and they are listed in stable condition.

    Police have not released any suspect information.

    Suspected gang member Ed Perkins, 20, was booked Saturday and accused of shooting Powell, likely an acquaintance, four times in the chest as he stood among the crowd at Market and Castro streets.

    Two bystanders were also shot that night — a man and a woman, both hit in the leg — and they are expected to survive.

    Perkins was being held without bail Monday on charges of murder, brandishing a weapon, assault with a firearm, multiple other firearms charges and a gang allegation, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

    Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

  • Not to flog a dead horse or resurrect a tired thread, but from today’s local news […]


    Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a
    tendency for people to favor information that confirms their
    preconceptions or hypotheses, independently of whether they are
    true. This results in people selectively collecting new
    evidence, interpreting evidence in a biased way, or selectively
    recalling information from memory. [….]

    Incidentally, the article says nothing at all about a street shrine, nevermind a shrine left standing for more than 48 hours. It describes a vigil. This again suggests that the street shrine issue is a smoke screen covering for a general disapproval of congregating in memory of the victim of a violent crime. Some of the recent shootings in Oakland have been at funerals – ought funerals for victims of violent crime be outlawed? The victim for whom the vigil was held was shot at a gay pride event – shall we ban such events?

    You might want to recall the original question that set off this particular discussion about street shrines: is it or is it not poor policy for the police to back off from strict enforcement of a 48 hour limit on street shrines. Is it or is it not a just, effective, and efficient use of police resources to enforce such a policy?

    In my view the question answers itself if we consider the thought experiment of imagining zero dollar cost, perfect elimination of all street shrines — no more street shrines as far as the eye can see. We ask ourselves: will this reduce the number of these retributive or follow-on crimes?

    To answer “yes” we must imagine that, somehow, a shrine provokes violence that otherwise would not occur had people gathered without a shrine. A “yes, street shrines are the problem” answer seems absurd on its face.

    So what is really happening here? We all note with sorrow these outward spirals of violence but there are apparent differences in how we see remedies. Attempting to prevent people from congregating in memory of a victim is the solution of some. I suppose the answer lies elsewhere.

    It’s perhaps interesting how the roadside memorial issue has evolved over the years. In past years, the concern was mainly over semi-permanent memorials being perceived as eyesores and as a private usurping of public property. Those concerns seem legitimate to me but that is not where the debate is today. Today the focus is on these retributive and follow-on shootings – but those take place at gatherings with or without shrines, at public space gatherings and at funerals. The architecture of the built environment, at the level of street shrines, seems to me like the least important aspect here.

  • laura menard


    Do you have any understanding of prevention policy, risk versus benefit.

  • Do you have any understanding of prevention policy, risk versus benefit.

    Some, from a lay perspective, yes I think I do.

    You don’t elaborate but I take your meaning to be that you think enforcing against the small crimes of street shrines helps to prevent larger crimes that have come to be associated with street shrines. By analogy, suppose that a neighborhood is newly visited by folks selling dime bags or crack – it may make some sense to crack down on that before it turns into a larger and perhaps violent problem. In general, you could describe prevention policies as an application of the broken window principle, through the prism of policing.

    Is that what you meant?

    All well and good except for a few things:

    First: Harder evidence should not be all that hard to gather but from what I can see so far, street shrines are not obviously magnets for serious crime in any statistically significant way. Now, I could be wrong or I could be right but I was surprised to find that in spite of a few cities enacting these bans, nobody has publicized any data one way or the other. The “meme” that street shrines are serious crime magnets seems to have emerged out of thin air and become a trope in some crime reporting. That stands in contrast to some of the more successful and proved attempts at preventative policing.

    Second: There are risks associated with serious street shrine crackdowns that I think you are ignoring. Such a crackdown will certainly not prevent people from publicly congregating in memory of victims (nor should prevention of such be a goal). Such a crackdown will almost certainly breed resentment and consume resources that can be better spent in other ways.

    Third: public mourning gatherings also sometimes have a side effect of spreading calm and peace. On balance, does a ban improve or worsen the situation?

    I don’t argue that police should be oblivious to street shrines for victims of violent crime – on the contrary, I think they deserve attention. I don’t propose that they should stand indefinitely. I simply think it naive to the point of dangerous to demand strict enforcement of a 48 hour rule — it is the wrong and probably ineffective focus and is needlessly polarizing.

    When Berkeley first declared the 48 hour policy you yourself were quoted in the press expressing skepticism. Your notion then, as I understood it, was that it was a fairly effete gesture and that really police ought to be concentrating on nailing the most significant repeat offenders who caused the most problems. To me, that seemed a sounder position than the one you adopt today.

    It’s hard to say the following without sounding like a cliche “bleeding heart liberal” of years gone by but, ultimately, I don’t think we can possibly make serious headway against this problem with policing. In the absence of a plausible promise of a decent life within the legitimate social order people just don’t roll over and give up – they turn outside the boundaries of a civil society. Having so turned, violent crime inevitably follows. If we do not collectively recognize the current economic, energy, and environmental situation as a genuine emergency and urgently react to expand civil society’s inclusiveness and make it more robust – we’re only going to see more and more and more of this kind of violence and less and less and less of any governmental capacity to respond or even maintain such basic infrastructure as we are accustomed to. Pictures, teddy bears, flowers, candles and bottles booze left on the street are not the problem nor are they a phenomenon whose disruption will reduce or even delay the problem.

    The sentiment against street shrines rehearsed hear reminds me of the old joke about the cop who encounters a drunk walking in circles under a streetlight, staring at the ground. “What’s up?,” inquires the cop. “Lost my keys.” Cop asks, “Well, ok, try to think back. Where do you last have them?”. “Oh, back in that dark ally over there. Fell out of my hands.” “Why are you looking over here?” “Well, the light’s better.”

    It’s easy to complain that the police aren’t enforcing as much as one might desire against street shrines. It’s a simple binary question… is the shrine there or is it not? It’s a simple anecdotal case: hey look, here are 50 news articles about shootings near street shrines. For the police, it’d be easy to give in to that, too: awright then, we’ll make sure those get cleaned up. It’s an easy issue to make an “issue” because either the shrines are or are not being enforced against – easy to see. The light is better.

    I’m just asking for any actual evidence or even thoughtful analytic case that it would make good policy. So I end with the same question to you I began with: got any such evidence?

  • s z underwood


    You dismiss the recent news event I am drawing attention to as falling into the trap of “confirmation bias.” Fine. Let’s say you’re right just to humor you. I’m curious. Could this observation cut both ways? Could you be equally ignoring evidence which disproves your bias? On your end of the argument, moreover, you haven’t yet actually provided any real evidence or data to buttress your hypothesis on this issue other than multiple rhetorical restatements of the same points. You noted most recently,

    “First: Harder evidence should not be all that hard to gather but from what I can see so far, street shrines are not obviously magnets for serious crime in any statistically significant way.”

    Since you seem to have a fair amount of time on your hands to play amateur social scientist, please gather some evidence to back up your view point. As you stated, “Harder evidence should not be all that hard to gather…” I look forward to reading about your methodology and studying your findings here on Berkeleyside.

    Final note, you seem like a bright and thoughtful person in the main. Therefore, I am not sure what to make of your semantic games about “vigil” versus “shrine” or “memorial.” Yes, technically, these all may differ in meaning, but this is a very barebones newspaper account. Most likely there was a vigil going on around or in proximity to some type of impromptu street shrine.

    The real point is that a public memorial gathering of this kind after a recent street shooting unfortunately becomes an easy target for retaliatory shootings. After repeated cases of what appear to be random shootings into these groups or crowds gathered around street shrines (I mean “random” in the sense that it seems no one specific individual is actually being targeted – it’s more of a “statement” shooting), it makes commonsense to delimit street shrines as one tool to break the “cycle of violence” which plagues some of our cities and local neighborhoods.

    It’s far from a panacea or some type of cure all for urban violence. I agree with you that are a myriad of other root causes of violent crime which are much more urgent to address than banning street shrines.

    p.s. Since I know you like quantification, I was pleased to note that your last, very thoughtful reply to Laura’s 11 word query worked out to 813 words. That means that in this case, your reply was a 74 factor verbal escalation. That dovetails nicely as well with my estimation model for your prolific literary output on Berkeleyside (as I recall, I estimated it at about 750 words per post avg.).

  • Underwood (would “s” be friendlier?),

    First, I appreciate what, to my eyes, is some shift in tone and approach here. Yes, let’s work this through – it’s an interesting question. So, to your points:

    Could you be equally ignoring evidence which disproves your bias?

    That is absolutely a possibility. For that reason, when I’ve spent a little time looking for evidence I’ve mainly looked for evidence on the pro side of a ban. I really expected to find some. There is a decent amount of material out there about law enforcement strategies against this kind of street crime and against truly organized gangs. It’s interesting stuff. I kept expecting to find some street shrine ban support and coming up short.

    Con side arguments are easy to find, too, but not ones that are all that persuasive. The main thing I’ve found are arguments that such bans are culturally insensitive. That’s not exactly false (see my own comments about breeding resentment) but it’s not in and of itself persuasive for the con side. Sometimes, sure, resisting a particular subculture practice is right or even necessary.

    As near as I can surmise, the crackdowns on street shrines took off after a few violent incidents at a few shrines and the politicians ran with it. I just don’t see good policy formation practice there – not buying it. Doesn’t jibe with the street shrines I’ve been near.

    Since you seem to have a fair amount of time on your hands to play amateur social scientist, please gather some evidence to back up your view point.

    One the one hand, since the proposal here is for a police crackdown on an activity that has long been tolerated, the burden is not on me. On the other hand – yeah, sure, I’ll do what I can.

    (On the third hand, I have far less time on my hands than you seem to think – I think you have an illusion there because we cross paths more often than most on issues like this.)

    So, I did find that blog (earlier linked to) of all(?) the violent crime scenes and shrines in Oakland in 2007. Let me seek your opinion here. Let’s assume we can conjure up a date and location and event crime map for Oakland 2007. One theoretical problem I see with that data is that, well, that’s 2007 and this is 2010 and things change. A practical problem is that that’s actually a pretty serious amount of data entry and data normalization to do (making sure addresses and time stamps can be compared accurately with crime records). “By eye” I see a hell of a lot more shrines on that site than I think were associated with subsequent crime. Quantifying that perception is doable (wanna help?) but because that’s 2007 data, I’m not sure it would sway people (say, you for example).

    Final note, you seem like a bright and thoughtful person in the main. Therefore, I am not sure what to make of your semantic games about “vigil” versus “shrine” or “memorial.”

    Let’s be clear, then. I use the terms “street shrine” and “street memorial” interchangeably to refer to an inert construction erected on a street – the physical artifacts. I use the term “vigil” to refer to convocations of people, such as the candlelight vigil at which Ms. Greene was shot.

    The importance of the distinction is that a banning of shrines (or memorials) will not (in my estimation) discourage vigils.

    Think this through, if you will: those shrines, most of the time, stand unattended. The crowded gatherings that in some instances get shot into are not entirely spontaneous – it is a coordinated action (for which purpose the physical shrine is not essential). My interpretation – admittedly speculative but not uninformed – is that these shootings are almost entirely not a case of the shooter driving by and noticing “oh, hey, there’s a crowd there”. Rather, it seems far more likely to me that word gets around that a vigil is being held.

    I haven’t heard you argue that vigils are unlawful assemblies and ought to be broken up on that ground. You and Ms. Menard seem fixated on the physical artifacts of shrines. Were you to make the former claim I’d still be opposed (I’d argue for police presence and protection) but while you are stuck with that fixation on the physical artifacts I think you’re just, pardon me, but nuts.

    The real point is that a public memorial gathering of this kind after a recent street shooting unfortunately becomes an easy target for retaliatory shootings. After repeated cases of what appear to be random shootings into these groups or crowds […]

    Who is hit within the crowd is rather random but the motive for the bulk of the shootings I’ve read about is hardly random. I’ve taken to saying “retaliatory or follow-on” because I don’t think all are retaliatory per se. My understanding is that some are kind of a “doubling down” (as in “heh… got two more”).

    One danger that I see in the anti-shrine, and now I guess anti-vigil posture you and Ms. Menard are adopting is that, you know what? That can incite pure thrill-kill crimes of opportunity that are random in relation to the victim being mourned (and who gets shot).

    Since I know you like quantification, I was pleased to note that your last, very thoughtful reply to Laura’s 11 word query worked out to 813 words.

    You’ve outed me. It’s true. I’m a writer.

  • s z underwood

    No time now to digest this five course reply (hopefully later!), but at the risk of belaboring the obvious, there was another writer once, possibly more acclaimed and “for the ages” than T. Lord, who had one of his actors state, “brevity is the soul of wit.” Context:

    My liege, and madam, to expostulate
    What majesty should be, what duty is,
    What day is day, night night, and time is time,
    Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
    Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
    I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. . . .

    Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 86–92

  • laura menard


    I have already cleared up your misunderstanding but for some reason you seem unwilling to let it go.

    Public works is responsible for removing whatever the family/friends do not pick up after 48 hrs, not the police. If public works thinks they need a police escort, they plan for such, no different than when forestry came out to remove problematic street trees from the parking strip of my testing neighbor, police and parks staff.

    Public works cleans up after authorized with permits street event regularly.

    Your adherence to the strong aggressive police “stamp out” enforcement rhetoric is both inaccurate and tiresome.

    As for your lay person try at environmental prevention concepts, use google, you will get closer to the facts.

  • Ms. Menard,

    The BPD is very much behind the policy and, regardless of who picks up the stuff, it is a policing policy. And it all comes from the same pool of money.

    I was struck by two aspects of the reporting on the killing of Rachael Greene. One was that, shortly before the incident, an OPD officer had done a drive-by “security check”. I can’t imagine what kind of “security” was hoped for with that methodology. Another was that, it was reported, OPD beat officers are alerted when there is to be a funeral on their beat (not a shrine, a funeral) for a victim of violent crime. It’s beginning to seem to me that the right prevention policy here would be a coordinated and persistent police presence at funerals and vigils, in a protective role, in service to the community.

    As for your lay person try at environmental prevention concepts, use google, you will get closer to the facts.

    So, I should consult an authority you can’t be bothered to name?

  • Mike

    The victor of this discussion will be the one that stops replying first. Really, I’m amazed how long this is going on, and the pointlessness of the debate.

    And please don’t reply to me. I won’t reply back.

  • laura menard

    Victor? doubtful. Uselessness of responding to TL? Agree

    Arguing for a better perspective, CRITICAL.

    Especially, considering how long concerned residents fought the city’s long standing complacency to address street violence in south Berkeley, without the help of downtown bullies Max Anderson and Tom Bates ( the officials responsible for the arbitrary decision to not comply with the policy regarding 62nd St)

    UCB Boalt Law school gang expert Zimring weighs in on violence at shrines/memorials/ funerals. But who needed a gang expert to explain what those of us hostage to this crap already understand.

  • Tomokotom

    who ever wrote this wrong that day on 62 nd street there were gun shooting the person who did it was the person who beaten my grandfather his father that man is ny uncle now get your facts right because he wouldn’t want to kill Kenneth if that was his brother in law his son Doran the 3rd, uncle and they used to be best friends but now they can’t because that man who killed my grandfather is an crimal so that is disrespectful because his chlidren   can’t see in tell they are 15 we miss u god please bless this great person and dead daughter