OAKLAND -- For more than two years, they've spent their Saturday mornings trying to bring attention to Oakland's rising homicide rate at the corners where victims have been gunned down.

But the violence has not subsided, and the backlog of yet-to-be visited corners -- as well as the frustrations of the demonstrators -- continue to grow.

"We are no longer going to take it," the Rev. Zachary Carey of True Vine Ministries told a gathering of nearly 100 people at 92nd Avenue and International Boulevard. "We're not leaving it up to the politicians to come up with a plan. We're demanding they protect the citizens."

Carey is the director of Soldiers Against Violence Everywhere, a coalition of church and community groups that is standing up against the killings in city streets and encouraging residents to cooperate with police.

The group picked Saturday's location in deep East Oakland because more than a week ago a gunman's stray bullet struck and killed Ramona Rochelle Foreman, a 48-year-old grandmother walking home with groceries near the intersection.

Demonstrators, many of whom were connected to Oakland churches, chanted "Someone died here. We need to care" as cars drove past.

Foreman's daughter, Janetta Roberts, briefly joined the gathering and prayed with several ministers.

"I feel good that people are out here in support of her," she said.


Advertisement

Those gathered also mourned the death of Wilbur Bartley, who was killed two months ago inside his cellphone store during a robbery.

Several clergymen urged a ban on assault rifles, as did Dallas Stout, who heads the state chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"All these people aren't firing video games and DVDs," he said. "They're shooting us with guns and bullets."

Oakland has recorded 130 homicides this year, 20 more than last year and the most since 2006. There have been 14 homicides in December alone.

"I've been here all my life, and I've never seen this much violence in the streets of Oakland," Fruitvale district resident David Lara said.

Many demonstrators had sharp words for Oakland politicians. The Rev. Gregory Payton of Greater St. John Missionary Baptist Church complained that council members "argue about everything."

Nathalio Gray, a youth minister at True Vine, said he didn't think elected officials had been responsive to their call for action and hoped the large gathering Saturday would get their attention.

"We're frustrated," he said. "We're fed up. That's why we've been out here every Saturday for the last two years."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.