A person is just as dead whether he is fatally shot in deepest East Oakland or some place clear across the city. So why should the ZIP code where a killing occurs matter? It shouldn't. Yet it does because we make value judgments -- often subconscious ones -- based on geography. Which in turn are often based on race and social status.
Last month, Ken Harbin and Tyronta Mickens, both 17 and African-American, were shot and killed in East Oakland. According to the police, their murders are linked to two warring groups that have committed many of the shootings in Oakland in recent months.
Street killings happen so often in the ZIP codes 94621 and 94603 that they are considered a way of life. By the residents who must live with the daily violence. By the police. By government officials. By the local media. By people who live in neighborhoods that aren't being shot up on a regular basis.
Most of the people killed in Oakland have been black or Latino.
When an 8-year-old girl is shot in the leg on the sidewalk in front of a house in a drive-by shooting in East Oakland, many people shake their heads, say how terrible it is, and keep on moving.
The shooting in East, West or North Oakland doesn't affect their own comfort or quality of life.
That's not to say that they don't care about the loss of life. There's just no personal sense of urgency. No feeling that their own houses are on fire.
Yet when Kiante Tay Campbell, 18, was fatally shot and three other people were wounded Friday on Telegraph Avenue in Uptown? During Art Murmur and the First Friday festival no less when thousands of people from across the Bay Area were participating in the massive monthly street party that is the city's pride and joy?
When bullets started flying in the heart of trendy bars, restaurants and upscale condos in regentrified Oakland that the New York Times proclaimed the "5th hottest destination for 2012?"
That is when people lose their minds. When some of those whose necks have been buried in the sand suddenly realize the severity of Oakland's homicide plague. No folks, it isn't just in the ghetto.
Immature, hotheaded young men with guns are perfectly capable of getting in their cars and coming out to public events like Art Murmur.
On Friday, two groups got into an argument on Telegraph directly behind the Paramount and about two blocks up the road from the Fox. Campbell, who is African-American and called himself "a hustler by birth and a gangster by law" on his Facebook page, was killed. His 17-year old friend was also shot, but not seriously wounded.
A 24-year-old woman from Oakland and a 29-year-old woman from San Francisco who had the misfortune of passing by when the shooting broke out, were also injured. Thankfully, they did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
Saturday, police arrested Donald Parks Jr., 19, in connection with the shooting. He was booked at Santa Rita Jail on suspicion of murder and is being held without bail.
Unlike most street shooting victims in Oakland, they were both white. A wild bullet doesn't care what color you are.
Art Murmur, which began as a once-a-month underground art gallery walk, has since transformed into a giant street party with galleries, music and food trucks. Unfortunately, the event has also drawn people who come with the intent of harassing and preying on others. I go early to avoid the unsavory atmosphere as the night wears on. The free-flowing alcohol contributes to a volatile mix.
One can only hope that the shootings have shattered whatever illusion anyone might have had that the city's killing epidemic was magically contained in East and West Oakland and was therefore "their" problem.
It is everyone's problem when you can't even enjoy yourself at a public event without running the risk of getting shot.
Some people seemed more concerned about how the shooting might impact Art Murmur's future than the fact that one person was killed and three more could have died had the bullets that struck them taken a different path.
Art Murmur, however, struck the right tone in its statement, as it said organizers will be exploring ways to keep the event safe.
"The Oakland Art Murmur is deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic shooting that occurred in the Uptown area last Friday night ..." it read. "We offer our prayers to the families of the victims. We also offer our prayers to the city of Oakland, the state of California and the entire country. This is another example of the epidemic gun violence erupting across America."
Tammerlin Drummond is a columnist for the Bay Area News Group. Her column runs Tuesday and Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org