OAKLAND -- A day after one of the Fruitvale district's best-known restaurateurs was shot and killed at his family eatery, more than 400 people observed a moment of silence Saturday morning at a neighborhood school.
Then, they got to work, peppering the city's top officials with a long list of complaints about crime, and proposing an even longer list of solutions.
"Whatever the color of our skins, we can't allow the murder of innocent civilians in the city, particularly people who have been our leaders," said Mayor Jean Quan, speaking to the standing-room-only crowd inside St. Jarlath's School.
The hours-long gathering was the fourth in a series of town-hall-style meetings Quan has held across the city, but Friday's slaying of Jesus "Chuy" Campos, the 59-year-old owner of the popular Otaez Mexican restaurants in Oakland and Alameda, gave this one a somber and more focused tone.
Quan, who had met Campos several times, most recently during a visit to his restaurant April 2, received her heaviest applause when she urged Oakland residents to support Fruitvale merchants by patronizing their businesses this week.
As she spoke, dozens of people already were doing just that. Two miles from the meeting, a revolving crowd of neighbors mingled on the sidewalk outside Otaez Mexicatessen, praying and leaving flowers and candles near the spot where Campos was killed.
Inside, customers and Campos' family members nestled among the
Uniformed police officers strolled up and down International Boulevard all day, part of a surge in walking patrols expected to last several weeks.
And later in the afternoon, merchants and residents began a peace march down International Boulevard that was scheduled to end at Otaez.
"Why does it need to take the death of a business and community leader to propel action?" asked Javier Gonzalez, who attended Quan's meeting and was friendly with Campos. "What we don't want to do is get in a blame game, but we do want results."
Police believe that Campos was killed during an attempted robbery about 5:30 a.m., shortly after he had arrived at the restaurant he and his wife had owned since the mid-1980s. He lived just a few doors down, and his routine each morning was to walk to the business, unlock its doors and begin preparations for serving breakfast.
Amid suspicions, based on witness descriptions, that the restaurateur's assailants were two African-American males, Gonzalez said he was pleased that Quan was frank in presenting local crimeas a problem that was not about race, and affected everyone.
"There's a perception in the community that we are a victim of crime committed by other races," Gonzalez said. "It's a theme that needs to be addressed, and it needs to be discussed in a positive way."
The crowd at Quan's meeting was reflective of the diversity of Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente's District 5, which spans the Fruitvale, Jingletown and Glenview neighborhoods of East Oakland. Attendees at the meeting came from all ethnic backgrounds, and nearly all of the district's neighborhoods, but shared similar frustrations about burglaries, graffiti, prostitution and violence fueled by gangs and drugs.
One resident came close to tears as she stood up to describe how on Wednesday, a gunfight resulted in five bullets being fired into the Fruitvale Victorian house where she has lived for more than 25 years.
Others demanded more security for the area's many pedestrians.
"My concern is about the safety of the immigrants, the refugees," said Ballav Poudyel, one of hundreds of Bhutanese refugees who recently settled in the neighborhood. "We use public transportation for our work and come home late at night. The bus stations are not so safe."
Residents who spoke were split about a proposed Fruitvale gang injunction against 40 members of a Latino gang, the Norteños.
De La Fuente, who co-hosted the meeting and supports the injunction, said it is just one tool of many that could make the neighborhood more secure.
"You can't do just prevention, intervention without aggressive enforcement -- without pulling the roots out," he said.