OAKLAND, Calif. - A community prayer vigil was held in Oakland Sunday evening, as police investigated two more shooting deaths overnight. It brings the total number of homicides in Oakland to 102 in nine months.
Community members were uplifted by prayer Sunday night at Mosswood Park in Oakland. They remembered victims murdered on city streets.
Bay Area Community Benefit Organization comprised of churches throughout Alameda County is behind the event.
"When we started this, we were at 22 killings in Oakland and that was devastating for us, and now here we are some seven, eight months later, and we are over 100 killings right now," said LJ Jennings of Bay Area Community Benefit Organization.
The gathering was initially meant to bring the community together after Oakland reached a grim milestone earlier this week of 100 homicides. There was grimmer news on Sunday. A 21-year-old and 26-year-old were shot to death just before 2 a.m. on High Street, leaving loved ones grieving.
"I’m not doing good, I want justice for my son," said Karen Kinsley, homicide victim’s mother.
Kinsley knows that pain.
On Jan, 15, her 30-year-old son Powell Lee was killed at a gas station near Lake Merritt. Police said the shooting resulted from an argument. He was Oakland’s sixth homicide this year. She said he was well-loved especially by his three-year-old.
"He knows his father and he wonders every day where’s my dad," said Kinsley.
"Homicides I think we are up to 102 right now and that’s the amount of all of last year," said Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church. "Who’s helping us? Governor Newsom are you watching TV, can you come and help Oakland. We need help."
Jackson thinks more aid from the state and local agencies and criminal justice reform would help ease violence.
"They do lock up people and the next day they are right back on the streets again," said Jackson.
Others stress police need the community’s help. All of them believe prayers are working. They said hundreds in Oakland have survived gun violence.
"If every one of those people who were wounded with gun shots, had they died, we would be talking over 400 homicides right now in the city of Oakland," said Jackson.
The next prayer vigil will be held on Oct. 23 at Lake Merritt Amphitheater. Families of this year’s homicide victims will be asked to join.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.