Oakland school shooting prompts calls for change

In Oakland, people say to understand the violence hurting the community, you need to get out into the community.

"We need more hands. We need more people of power to say let's step from behind this desk and say let me come to the problem," said James Baldwin, an East Oakland resident.

He says the problem he sees around his home in East Oakland, is that young people are facing shootings, poverty, a lack of playgrounds, few youth programs and resources.  

He says the city needs to invest money in things that could help young people stay away from guns, gangs, and crime. 

Baldwin says he spent 13 years in prison on gang charges and says his mission now is putting young people on a different path.

"I used to sell drugs. I used to ride around with guns. I used to do all that," said Baldwin. "It ain't going to get you nowhere. It's a cell with your name on it ...or it's a grave with your name on it. It's not going to get you nowhere."

Oakland police say the school shooting in East Oakland Wednesday might be gang-related.

At a public "Families in Action" forum Thursday night at Castlemont High School, school board candidates and mayoral candidates spoke about the issues to students, parents, teachers and community members who want a change.

"As a student I feel sad and it breaks my heart that we have so much violence here in Oakland," said Nicolas Vargas, an Oakland student, "I would like to see there be more safety."

"Is there a metal detector for kids to go to school?" said Gregory Evans of Oakland, "What are they doing to hire professionals in the community to ask questions of the students about how violence occurs and impacts their life?"

Some say they want concrete answers from city officials and more police who will stay and have community connections.

"I worry we don't have enough cops," said an Oakland resident named Justin, "Cops don't want to work here. They leave quickly. We have a lot of rookies coming here and after a  year or two they're off to the suburbs."

Some say the entire community needs to communicate more and talk with youth about their emotions and the violence they're seeing and feeling.

"It's fear, it's straight fear. Our baby's afraid to go to school," said Tunisia Harris, an Oakland parent who says there needs to be more discussion about violent images children see, "They're being exposed to so much, so many programs are on the computers. That's too much for our children, even high school."

"Walk up to them. Talk to them. Ask them how their life is going, how their day is going," said Baldwin. "Hurt people hurt people, and healed people know how to heal people."

More healing happened at a community town hall meeting Thursday night at ACT C in East Oakland. The meeting was sponsored by the non-profit YouthALIVE.

The next mayoral candidates' forum is set for Oct. 3  from 6 p.m., sponsored online by the League of Women Voters.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at jana.katsuyama@fox.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.