‘Ceasefire Walk Against Violence’ comes to West Berkeley

A small memorial was set up in West Berkeley near the site of Zontee Jones' death earlier this year. Photo: Emilie Raguso

A small memorial was set up in West Berkeley near the site of Zontee Jones’ death earlier this year. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Residents, officials and members of community and religious organizations will walk through West Berkeley on Thursday night to take a stand against violence and remember three men killed in shootings earlier this year. 

Councilwoman Linda Maio’s office helped organize the walk in conjunction with Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Berkeley Congregations Organized for Action (BOCA) and other anti-violence groups. Everyone is welcome.

Three of the city’s four homicides this year have taken place in West Berkeley. In February, Zontee Jones, 34, was shot in broad daylight on Delaware Street and San Pablo Avenue. In August, on the other side of San Pablo at Delaware, Dustin Bynum, 24, was shot at close range in front of Bing’s Liquors. Then, in September, 22-year-old Anthony Medearis III died in a shooting near Eighth and Camelia streets.

“Our West Berkeley residents are deeply shaken,” wrote Maio in a statement about the walk planned for Thursday, Oct. 3. “I think of this as a broad expression of concern and reclaiming our streets for safety.”

Berkeley’s other 2013 killing, of 26-year-old Jermaine “Third” Davis in July, took place in South Berkeley but was not without ties to the west side of town. A friend of Davis told Berkeleyside that his family has lived in West Berkeley for decades. And many friends of Medearis, the September homicide victim, had, earlier in the year, posted memorial photographs and messages online about Davis’ death, indicating Davis had close ties to the neighborhood. One community member said Medearis attended Davis’ funeral.

Olajuwon "Tutu" Clayborn (left) and Jermaine "Third" Davis (right) appear together in a memorial graphic posted by a friend of Anthony "Lil Tone" Medearis III on Facebook.

Olajuwon “Tutu” Clayborn (left) and Jermaine “Third” Davis appear together in a memorial graphic posted by a friend of Anthony “Lil Tone” Medearis III on Facebook. Clayborn had attended Berkeley schools but later moved to Oakland, where he was killed. Davis appears here at Clayborn’s funeral.

In recent years, people who knew him said Davis had become increasingly involved with family life and was helping keep his nephew and other young relatives on a positive path. But when he was younger, authorities said he had been involved with the West Berkeley Waterfront gang, and that he had been targeted in a 2009 attack by North Side Oakland gang members that killed his brother, Charles “Chill” Davis, and two bystanders.

Though the city itself has had only four homicides in 2013, a fifth fatal shooting took place on Grizzly Peak Boulevard outside the city limits in May.

At least two other killings took place this year in Oakland but involved teenagers with deep Berkeley ties. In May, former Berkeley High School student Olajuwon “Tutu” Clayborn was fatally shot in East Oakland. The prior fall, he had transferred for his senior year to Castlemont High, where he was an athlete and reported to be a member of the honor roll. (Many friends who posted online about Davis’ and Medearis’ shootings also referenced Clayborn’s death.)

Just days after Clayborn’s killing, 17-year-old Berkeley High junior Isaac Johnson Jr. was fatally shot in what his father described in a radio broadcast on KPOO 89.5 as a random drive-by in North Oakland. Johnson was killed just over the Berkeley line after stepping off a bus on his way to his grandmother’s house, his father said. The teenager was on life support for two weeks before he was pronounced dead, according to media reports.

View Ceasefire Walk Against Violence, Oct. 3, 2013 in a larger map

The Berkeley Ceasefire Walk Against Violence aims to gives residents a chance to remember the victims, with a moment of silence planned at each location noted in the map above as part of a procession through the neighborhood. The event begins at Good Shepherd, 1823 Ninth St., at 6:30 p.m., and the walk starts at 7 p.m.

Also happening this week, Maio is set to make a request on Tuesday night that the Berkeley City Council schedule a public discussion on gun violence in the city. The item, which is currently on the consent calendar, describes the as-yet-unscheduled event as a session to be organized by several council members, including the mayor, along with community leaders “who have some knowledge of the gun culture and how it manifests in our city.”

Maio wrote that, following this year’s shootings, “Neighbors, particularly in West Berkeley, are alarmed, as are many others, and we want to be able to intervene in a meaningful way, to make the streets safer and to prevent more tragic losses. Some of our community leaders, our pastors and youth workers, are familiar with the cycle of violence and what causes it, including the root causes of poverty, joblessness, and drugs. This proposal intends to bring together community leaders, neighbors, educators, law enforcement, clergy, and youth workers, at a public discussion to look more deeply into gun violence and in particular focus on the prevalence of guns in our community.”

The goal of the meeting, she wrote, would be to create an action plan with the aim of doing “what we can, as a community, to ‘break the cycle’ of gun violence and the tragedies that are left in its wake.”

Click to view a flier about Thursday's walk.

Click for a flier about Thursday’s walk.

Maio has held two community meetings this year to bring residents together in the wake of fatalities in her district. She plans to hold a third one Oct. 19 at 2 p.m., also at Good Shepherd.

Maio sent an email to constituents earlier this month announcing plans to work with business owners around Delaware and San Pablo to install surveillance cameras at one property, and ensure code enforcement at Bing’s, outside which one of this year’s fatalities took place, in hopes of increasing safety. She said she is continuing to pursue the closure of a nearby “illegal marijuana dispensary” called Forty Acres.

A desire to find ways to address violence in and around Berkeley has inspired several other events this year as well. In March, Berkeley High School held a school-wide assembly focused on gun violence and gangs. In May, a coalition of groups from the school district, city and a broad range of community organizations held a workshop to create an action plan to address gun violence; the group also met in August and, though on hiatus, plans to resume meeting in November.

Witnesses, texts link San Leandro man to Berkeley killing (09.16.13)
Berkeley Police make arrest in August murder (09.11.13)
Relatives remember Berkeley shooting victim ‘Lil Tone’ (09.10.13)
Man dies after shooting in West Berkeley (09.08.13)
Police identify Berkeley shooting victim (08.05.13)
24-year-old man dies after Berkeley shooting (08.01.13)
Berkeley homicide suspect arrested in San Diego (07.26.13)
2 men named in Berkeley murder case; details emerge (06.19.13)
Berkeley police make arrest in Zontee Jones murder (06.08.13)
Workshop urges action on gun violence around Berkeley (05.29.13)
Berkeley community remembers teen slain in Oakland (05.08.13)
Berkeley High asks youth to fight back against violence (03.08.13)
West Berkeley neighbors ask for answers after homicide (02.20.13)
Police name Zontee Jones as year’s first Berkeley homicide (02.06.13)
Man shot dead in Berkeley, first homicide of 2013 (02.04.13)

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  • Hopefully we’ve seen the end of the days when a BPD lieutenant could dismiss a shooting in this neighborhood as “one random event” and pledge “you’re not going to see a difference in the way the Police Department handles crime in your area.” http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/02/20/west-berkeley-neighbors-ask-for-answers-after-homicide/

    Two shootings and seven months later, I hope the BPD has woken up to the extent of the problem in West Berkeley.

  • bgal4

    Maio+BOCA=weak unfocused actions

  • Iceland_1622

    If citizens of *any* community are not ready to confront the systemic and dynamic issues underneath the presenting symptoms of any problem related to such carnage and mayhem ( domestic social terrorism ), then there is just going to be more of the same and it will be more vicious and even more amoral. After reading of the capture and arrest of the very suspect who apparently murdered that beautiful young girl in Oakland as well as one man here in Berkeley earlier, I am baffled and flummoxed as to why there is no in-depth, high level and ongoing discussion/s of actually paying people *not* to have children, or to just bring them in this world and then just dump and discard them like paper-dolls or disposable fashion accessories. It would be cheaper by a factor of 250x to do this on a bad day. It’s actually called ‘family planning’, and conscious and healthy long range parenting. And like alcoholism, this violent psychopathology crosses all social and economic lines. And just as point of reference, do we really need another Donald Trump, or Ivan Boeskey and the zillions of bankers and CEOs who have once again looted America & the EU and destroyed it’s future and promise of at least a chance.

    A world of wanted children, raised in a healing and healthy environment, might be a good starting point. I am not so sure we are at any turning point for that to even begin to occur yet oddly and frighteningly. However, America is sick because it’s families are sick and disturbed. It’s called ‘normal’ as it’s so pervasive. Part of me wants to discard this post as I am aware that nothing will come of it at this time, however at least I am able to voice my anger, disgust, fear and thoughts, albeit just a faint starting point. Maybe, just possibly, this is the final jolt to start something more comprehensive into full motions here. God knows there is no shortage of brain power and street smarts here. So what is it I am missing? Has everyone just given up and shrugged their shoulders. Apparently so. Maybe the inner city is just too far gone, programmed for minimal insight, excited by the dram of death and retaliation and there is no “will” to do better and we have to just accept an underclass here that is to be avoided and feared at all costs. If so, so be it.

  • Barry Hirsh

    Someone should sent a text alert to the gangbangers that a fortuitous “Knockout Game” opportunity is imminent!

  • bgal4

    Nicely stated.

  • Marvey Hilk

    Let’s show our support and join this walk against violence in our wonderful city.

    Warm thoughts for all those affected by such senseless violence.

  • Chris

    What if they stopped at EVERY spot in West Berkeley where there was a shooting, but no death, in the past 5 years? That’s take a looooooonnnnggg time. At least 20 other locations to visit…

  • bgal4

    So how do you describe the current welfare state which PAYS underclass people to have babies?

    Most problems do not require government handouts, one of many models of self reliance and intelligence at work:

    Welcome to Grey Bears

    From a simple act of kindness, Grey Bears has grown into one of the most efficient food distribution and recycling nonprofits in the country. Over 40 years our Brown Bag Program has delivered 78 million pounds of fresh produce and groceries to thousands of Santa Cruz County seniors. And the need is growing. Every day we work to alleviate food insecurity among seniors. You can make a difference. Please become a member, make a donation or volunteer to help Grey Bears serve seniors, connect generations and recycle resources.

  • bgal4

    mind the gap did you forgot what you wrote? I provided a specific example of to two of your issues.

    + paying people to help with environmental remediation of their heavily polluted neighborhoods

    + paying people to help build infrastructure and businesses to improve their community food security

    + paying people to help build better health care and elder care infrastructure in these communities

  • mind the gap

    I see, I see. Thanks. Yes. And thank you for the link.

    Grey Bears looks like a fine program and we could possibly use more like them but it isn’t quite the kind of thing I mean.

    If you look at the board of directors for Grey Bears and look at its charity-based model and how it operates something becomes apparent:

    It grows out of privilege. Intelligent self-reliance is certainly on display but that’s also true in a lot of situations involving criminality. What distinguishes Grey Bears is a substantial network of privilege that it draws on to gather organizing and operating expertise, funds, volunteer labor, and so on.

    Founded in 1973 by up-and-coming entrepreneurs from an advantaged background it was a mere two years later (they say) that their PR efforts landed them stories about the effort on national television, in the WSJ, etc.

    That kind of thing takes a lot more than just self-reliance and intelligence.

    I’m suggesting, in contrast, external investment into these underclass communities with the aim of building up the communties’ internal wealth, cash flow, and ability to produce essential goods and services that they consume.

    Right now those communities have a thriving jobs program thoughtfully provided them by very large scale organized crime.

    The alternative I’m describing *is* abstract (on purpose at this stage) but think of investments that help these communities own more of their housing; collect income on much needed environmental remediation; own and work businesses that produce and distribute food they consume, and so forth.

  • guest
  • bgal4

    As a person who grew up poor and morally intact, I do not accept the notion of what privilege as you are suggesting. Wealth is health, not money. Do right regardless is the way I was raised, I make NO excuses for committing violent crime. Anyone, poor, abused or not, knows right from wrong.

  • mind the gap

    As a person who grew up poor and morally intact, I do not accept the notion of what privilege as you are suggesting.

    Is that a typo for “white privilege”?

    Why are you talking to me about “white privilege” or “excuses for committing violent crime”? I haven’t made “excuses” and I said “privilege” not “white privilege”.

  • bgal4

    No typo. Most poor folks regardless of ethic or racially background do NOT commit violent crime.

  • mind the gap

    Most poor folks regardless of ethic or racially background do NOT commit violent crime.

    That’s true but I don’t see how it’s relevant.

  • guest

    Probably was a typo, but as you can see it has been edited, or more properly retconned.
    Watch your step around here: the comments shift and change after having been replied to.

  • skeptic

    I agree with all your ideas, bgal4, but I do wonder where you think the money would come from. The American people seem to have a deep reluctance to pay anything to help poor people.

  • emraguso

    (Possible this comment is on the wrong story?)

  • Guest

    Ya think?