In San Francisco Bay, residents are fed up with the insecurity

LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO

Little Jasper Wu will never have celebrated his 2 years. On November 6, a month before his birthday, the child suffered a stray bullet while sleeping peacefully in his car seat. His mother was driving the car on the I-880 freeway on the outskirts of Oakland, California. It was almost 2 p.m. Two other children and an adult were on board. The family was returning to their home in Freemont, in the eastern San Francisco Bay area.

Fate would have it that the Lexus, which was heading south, was caught in the crossfire of two vehicles driving on the other side. Jasper was hit in the head, he was the only one in the car to be hit. Within two days, he would have celebrated his father’s return. Stuck in China by the Covid-19 pandemic, he was due to return to San Francisco on November 8, after the lifting of the “travel ban”. The child was buried on November 19 in general sadness. The GoFundMe page opened in his memory raised 250,000 dollars (220,000 euros).

Jasper Wu’s death has entered the annals of violence in Oakland, but it is far from unique. On November 18, a 29-year-old woman, Amani Morris, was shot and killed in comparable circumstances. It was 9 a.m., she was on her way to a job interview in San Francisco. His companion was behind the wheel, along with the 3 and 5 year old children. The gunman was in a car that passed theirs near the East Bay Bridge toll booth. The bullet went through the young woman’s phone before hitting her in the head.

More than one highway shootout per week

After the shootings on campuses, places of work or worship, a new category has emerged in California: “highway shootings”, or highway shootings. Since January, the police have recorded 76 of these incidents – including five fatal – on the ring roads of Oakland, more than one per week. The motives and perpetrators of the attacks have rarely been identified. On several occasions, the victims died at the wheel, causing moreover accidents.

This series is added to the intra-muros violence, daily in this port of 450,000 inhabitants where the highways serve as a border for the former ghettos: 127 homicides since the start of the year, 20 more than during the same period of 2020. On November 19, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong held a conference of press to sound the alarm. He didn’t have to look very far for examples. The day before, his agents had been called in for a shooting on the 89e avenue: they had counted 198 casings (none injured miraculously).

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