In the wake of a bloody Oakland summer during which a 16-month-old boy, an 8-year-old girl and two dozen others were slain, relatives of others killed in the past few years presented a list of demands to city and county leaders Tuesday, hoping to create a more unified relationship.
"Our elected officials are not doing enough to ensure the safety of the public," said Brenda Grisham, the mother of Christopher LaVell Jones, who was killed on Dec. 31, 2010. "Each murder is stemmed by a problem that should have been taken care of in the first place.
"Our main focus is to bring closure to wounded families and to ensure the best possible solution is being set in place."
The group of 15 women met with Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, police Chief of Staff Sgt. Holly Joshi, Deputy Mayor Sandre Swanson and others, asking them to establish a policy to stop the trafficking of guns into Oakland, stop making plea bargains in murder cases, host a monthly "town hall" meeting with families of murder victims, ensure the privacy of eyewitnesses in murder cases and create an oversight board for families of murder victims to get updated information, among other requests.
"In the meeting, we did get a positive response, but time will tell," Grisham said.
Most of the women had relatives murdered in the past few years. The families of the two children slain this summer — 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, killed July 17, and 16-month-old Drew Jackson, killed Aug. 7 — did not attend.
According to a White House statement on the meeting, Obama "reiterated that government alone can never fill the void that causes a child to turn to violence, but that we all have a responsibility to do our part to create safe communities and save lives."
"The president applauded the mayors for their local efforts to combat violence, solicited their input about proven methods, and pledged his administration’s partnership," the White House reported. "He also vowed to continue doing everything in his power to combat gun violence through executive action and to press Congress to pass common-sense reforms like expanding the background check system and cracking down on gun trafficking."
Since 2008, Oakland has averaged about 111 homicides a year, with a high of 131 in 2012 and a low of 95 in 2010. There have been 68 people killed in Oakland this year.