At night, you can smell the danger at Oaks Market and Liquor Store near Foothill Square in East Oakland.
There is a steady procession of hardened young men, drunks and drug addicts resembling walking skeletons in the parking lot out front. It's the sort of place where people buy cheap liquor in pints, guzzle them near the premises, then toss the empty bottles into the street. I drive past it as fast as possible on my way home.
I don't know why Taiteanna Turner, who was just 16, was there with a 23-year-old male companion at 11:30 p.m. last Wednesday. Her family says it was a rare night out for the new mother. It would be her last. She was shot and killed in front of the store. Whoever did it fled, as did in typical fashion, many of the witnesses.
Yet another street shrine with teddy bears, candles and balloons. Yet another family left to plan a funeral for a child who herself was the mother of an 8-month-old. Yet another column about the continuing slaughter in the streets of Oakland.
Why was a 16-year-old girl anywhere near this place at that hour of the night? I suspect like a lot of young people in East Oakland who have experienced so much violent death, she was probably immune to the fact she might be in danger.
If this isn't exhibit A for Police Chief Howard Jordan's contention that Oakland needs a curfew ordinance to help police get minors off the streets late at night, I don't know what is. I'm not interested in hearing about curfews could lead to racial profiling and further poison relations between the Oakland Police Department and African-American youth. What about the civil right to live past age 16?
Nor do I want to hear about supposed evidence that shows curfews don't reduce youth-related violence. There are other studies suggesting that they do.
It is time for people in this city whose heads are buried in the sand up to their necks to realize that we are dealing with an epidemic. We must act now to protect young people who are being shot, a number of them killed, on the streets of this city. If they were not black and living in poor neighborhoods, I can assure you, people would not be so blasé.
Jordan had announced his plans before this recent killing to lead a communitywide effort to pass a youth curfew ordinance.
Only the police chief is careful not to call it a "curfew" -- a word that has the same effect on the city's so-called "progressives" as waving a red blanket does in front of a bull.
The fact is, too many parents and guardians seem unwilling or unable to keep their younger children and teens safe at home rather than running the streets of neighborhoods where they run the risk of getting shot. Then there are those minors who are out there because they have no adults in their lives who could give two cents about them. If the community doesn't step in, who will?
If you don't think Oakland has a huge problem with kids being out on the streets in harm's way all hours of the night, just take a drive along International Boulevard in East Oakland.
No, a night curfew wouldn't stop all youth-related violence. People also get shot during the day. But if the police were to enforce a curfew -- even if it were just periodic sweeps to pick up underage youth and issue fines to their guardians -- it would make minors think twice about hanging on street corners into the wee hours and might make some parents more mindful of what their kids are doing.
Mayor Jean Quan -- who helped dispatch former Police Chief Anthony Batts' curfew proposal to the graveyard -- told CBS that she will work with Jordan to pass an "anti-loitering" ordinance by the fall.
Only Quan is apparently supporting a curfew that would target certain neighborhoods in the city -- which would never survive a constitutional challenge.
I don't know how many young people have been shot when they should have been in bed. Yet it happens often enough that it was one of the first things Batts noticed when he came to Oakland.
Batts reasoned that if minors weren't on the streets, they wouldn't be magnets for drive-bys and other shootings. If the police were to enforce a youth curfew, juveniles would also be less likely to be out on the street committing violent crimes during those hours.
Makes sense to me.
Yet Oakland is a place that operates not based upon logic but upon a distorted "progressive" ideology. Elected officials scream bloody murder about federal crackdowns on pot dispensaries yet are silent with regards to actual murder. Certain activists reflexively oppose every proactive law enforcement tool on the grounds that it will unfairly target African-Americans in poor communities.
No one is claiming a curfew would be a silver bullet. But if it kept even one child from ending up in a casket, it would be worth it.
Tammerlin Drummond will moderate an online chat Tuesday at noon about whether Oakland should institute a nighttime youth curfew. To participate, go to http://www.insidebayarea.com/crime-courts/ci_21275959/live-chat-should-oakland-enforce-youth-curfew-aug