Youth ALIVE in Year-End Media

Posted: January 10, 2022

YA! Staff on Oakland’s Violent Year –

YA! Violence Interrupter Antoine Towers

As 2021 came to a close and the media sought to summarize a year of increased violence in Oakland and beyond, reporters sought out Youth ALIVE! staff to help them put things in context, and especially to draw a picture of how violence has affected people, families and the community. In Oakland North, in The Oaklandside and on KCBS Radio In Depth, YA! violence interrupters Antoine Towers, intervention specialists Carlos Jackson and Andrea Piazza, crisis responder Marilyn Harris, who works with families of homicide victims, violence prevention educator Sasha Long from our Teens on Target program and agency and program leaders, including Intervention Director Paris Davis and Executive Director Anne Marks, were all called on to comment. Read and listen to their insights in the links below.

Oaklandside: 2021 is Oakland’s deadliest year since 2006
Intervention Director Paris Davis on the effects of victimization and sudden violence on people already living on the margins, including the homeless community or those on the brink of losing their home: “It’s life changing. Some of these people are caught in the crossfire. They didn’t have ties to gangs. These are people just trying to get home and god forbid got hit with a bullet.”

Oakland North: Oakland’s high homicide rate moves residents to do something about it
Violence Interrupter Antoine Towers on causes of violence: “I believe that the number one issue is that no one knows how to communicate with each other. The first response is to go get a gun instead of talking.”
Violence Prevention Educator Sasha Long on how hard these times have been on our youth: “When kids feel nobody cares and nobody is looking, they would mess up, they would be on the streets or fail at school. But we are the people that care. We’re trying to get them on track to being adults that can handle the real world.”
Intervention Specialist Andrea Piazza on trauma and her mission to help: “Lots of our clients we serve suffer from PTSD. Many of them don’t want to go outside or work because they’re afraid. Our mission is to get these victims back to stability, meaning counseling, mentoring, or whatever approaches that can help them feel comfortable.”
Intervention Specialist Carlos Jackson on our young people and how they are often misunderstood: “People are talking about a person who’s a born criminal, but a lot of time those young folks who are justice-involved really might have made just one or two bad decisions in their life.”

KCBS Radio In Depth: Reflecting on another challenging year for the Bay Area
ED Anne Marks‘ comments begin at about 28:30. Among her statements: “I don’t think disappointing covers it–I think it’s heartbreaking that we’re all going through this and the way that it impacts our most vulnerable communities is particularly tragic. You mix the combination of lethal weapons with increasing conflict and stress, violence is what follows, that’s not a surprise. We all know the things that went wrong, but then there are also the things that stopped going right. We lost our social connection. Our children lost the structure and support of school for a longtime and what that meant for them. And programs like ours that could effectively prevent violence couldn’t do our work as well or as effectively. Those are some of the things that have made this surge unique.”