"The parolee who shot five Oakland police officers Saturday, killing three and gravely wounding another, was hiding inside his sister's apartment just around the corner, where he ultimately was shot dead himself.
And neighbors knew it. But they didn't call the cops for nearly an hour.
If neighbors had spoken up sooner, said one woman who lives two doors down, some of those lives might have been saved. But in East Oakland, lamented the woman, Elaine, who refused to give her last name, that just doesn't happen.
"I've been crying all day. It makes you feel bad," she said, wiping her eyes just steps from the blood spatters that clung stubbornly to a broken sidewalk on 74th Avenue. "Because all the time, you knew he was in that apartment. But you just don't want to be a snitch. The word, 'snitch,' it's almost worse than murderer."
So why am I writing about this incident? Because of the shootings of several young men in the south end of Seattle over the last 6 months. Virtually nothing has happened in any of the cases because no one saw anything or no one wants to speak up (either out of fear or being labeled a snitch). (I guess reporting something anonymously isn't any good because the shooters will presumably believe a family member reported it and retaliate against them.)
As we talk and discuss the assignment plan with regard to high schools, there is clearly a safety issue for many south end parents. Some of it may be the perception that schools in the north are better but I believe it is much more about safety. I've seen a few comments here that seem to imply that if parents at those schools got more involved the problem might be lessened.
Public safety is one of the number one services of government. That includes the City and the district. They can't stop the number of people running around with guns but they can make sure there are metal detectors at schools that need them, security, police and violence prevention programs (especially in middle schools). And if we have a no-tolerance policy for any kind of gang dress, signs or activity, it needs to be enforced. Where parents could likely help is to let police know if they see any kind of gang activity (even hanging around) around schools.
If you have a community culture that refuses to believe in law enforcement and/or lives by their own code, then we will never have safe streets or safe schools.