Kevin Grant (OaklandUnite.org)
Kevin Grant (OaklandUnite.org)

Oakland is a city with its share of struggles: crime, gun violence, under-performing schools. Kevin Grant is working to change that. He is a former Oakland gang member who now works against youth violence by literally taking to the streets. In his work with Oakland Unite, Grant intervenes in retaliatory violence and works to keep parolees from going back to jail. He was awarded the California Peace Prize last November. KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny talked to Grant as part of its First Person series. Here are some highlights from the interview. Edited transcript …

Kevin Grant on the Availability of Guns:

If a hundred oak trees fell in Oakland, they would have federal dollars trying to find out what Rocky Mountain Spider Fever Tick was eating them. If a hundred spears of broccoli went bad, they’d trail it all the way back to the store it was sold at and the plantation it grew from and everything else. A hundred kids are dropping. We need to find out where these guns are coming from while we’re doing our thing, because without the tools, the kids would have to go back to what I grew up with: fighting, and that’s much safer and healthier than laying each other down with these long weapons.

[They’re] shooting 223’s—these are military style ammunition that they’re getting down with today … Somebody needs to put some dollars into trailing these guns, because these kids are buying guns on the street for amounts of dollars you wouldn’t believe, and that means that the supply is grand. [My] kids is getting… what they call “long things” for two, three hundred dollars off the street…

On Race:

I was a black man, and when I was getting arrested in Oakland, every cop who arrested me was white, right? So I had that, and then I grew up in the system that helped feed that [concept of racism]. It wasn’t ‘What’d you do to get back here,’ it was, ‘Who arrested you?’ You know, ‘My parole agent.’ It was everybody else’s fault.

So then I had to—for me, this is what helped me—I had to start taking ownership… ‘Okay, but wait, maybe it was that pistol and me shooting at that dude, maybe it was that half a kilo of dope I had in my trunk when the police pulled me over…’

So what we do [is] we address the [level of racism] and let them know “A,” it’s a real problem, and it’s gonna affect you in this way. But let’s not feed a “B” into it so you end up getting caught up with a “C.” So we say a) racism and jobs and differentiating on all that stuff is real—yeah, we ain’t gonna fake that, but b), you don’t wanna add to that a parolee, another number, another this… so we push it there but don’t let them feed off it.

On Oakland Police Department Hiring Consultant Bill Bratton:

Okay, me and Oakland P.D., [HoJo], my guy— we have a gangster relationship; he lets me stay in my lane, and I let him do his thing. I don’t know [Bratton], right? I don’t know his history. I stay on the flatlands and keep my view, oftentimes, out of that atmosphere up there because really, honestly: a) I can’t do nothing about it, b) it ain’t none of my business as long as Jordan told me it’s not gonna affect what we’re doing… [Bratton’s] gonna eat well. I ain’t mad, I try and eat well too— so I ain’t mad at him for eating well, but I’m not gonna confuse what I gotta do with some politics.”

On Stopping the Cycle of Retaliation:

We’ve gotten good at stopping shootings two and three because shooting one has happened. And one of the things in Oakland and many other flatland communities like Oakland [is] there’s a retaliation factor that you can pretty much bank on with the youngsters.

So we are pretty successful, but there are times when a loved one will be like, ‘Kev, I respect what you do, and I always respect, but dude shot my sister. When I see him, I’m gonna do him.’ And so there’s times when the lay has been too fat for us to redirect it, but oftentimes we’re able to get in, and what we find is it’s very important to buy some time as their cooler heads prevail.

You can listen to the full interview here:

  • http://www.facebook.com/markcra56 Mark N Starla Traina

    RACISM in AMERICA -> -> ->

    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13843272

    A massive 24-hour roundup Thursday led to the arrest of 32 suspects accused of violent, random and racially-motivated attacks in downtown Denver over the past four months.

    Denver police say they are still looking for three suspects, one is a juvenile.

    They say the majority of the group are gang members from either Rolling 60 Crips or Black Gangster Disciples. They are all black.

    Police say the suspects targeted only white or Hispanic people to beat up and/or rob. Twenty-eight victims were men. And three were women who were with the male victims.

    “Without warning, the suspects would attack the victim, usually with a punch to the head, with the intent of knocking him unconscious. Other suspects would then join the assault. And in some instances, rob the victims of their personal items–cash, wallets, credit cards, cell phones, iPods, etc.,” says Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman.

    They allegedly committed 26 crimes from July 17 through Nov. 17 — often in the early morning hours.

    Surveillance video released in September shows an attack on one young man. It’s one of, at least, seven unreported crimes police want to talk about with victims and witnesses to help bolster their cases even further.

    “You have lot of activity downtown. People think it’s a street fight. They don’t realize it’s a pattern of these crimes and we may need them as a witness,” he says.

    Police say the group worked together to make money from their victim’s property. Their investigation showing they were organized and deliberate.

    “As far as a mastermind, who was going out and saying ‘Go do this, do that,’ our investigation does not reflect that. But it does reflect an organization where a loose confederation of individuals were involved with this,” says Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey.

    Police are still looking for Allen Ford, 18 and Torrence McCall, 26, along with one juvenile who police aren’t identifying.

    The 35 suspects face multiple felonies including: aggravated assault, aggravated robbery and bias motivated crime. They are each being held on $1-million bond per count.

    fatuous1 is MARK TRAINA an outspoken Civil Rights Activist from South Louisiana. Some describe him as a Racist; however, he describes himself as a Realist. Mr. Traina worked as a School Psychologist for the Jefferson Parish Public School System for nearly 30-years. He is currently retired and spends his days reading articles on-line and writing about current events from his personal perspective. Mr. Traina has is the Author of “THE REALIST”, a book published in 2012, shortly after his retirement from the JPPSS. He is also famous for his so-called TRAINAISMS, for example,“Good parents know that structure, discipline and respect for authority must start in the home or it will never end up in the School!”

Author

Amanda Stupi

Amanda Stupi is an interactive producer for KQED News. She grew up in Northern California, where her mother would woo her inside on warm summer nights with promises of The Monkees and CHIPS. Stupi is fascinated with the intersection between popular culture and the fine arts. Her idea of artistic perfection includes The Beastie Boys' Check Your Head, Joni Mitchell's Blue, Bull Durham, several episodes of Cheers, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and most of Wallace Stevens' poetry. Stupi's life goals include watching every episode of Law and Order, finishing a screenplay and thanking her mom in an Oscar acceptance speech.

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