Some Oakland students face life-or-death decisions as early as elementary school

By Katy Murphy
Oakland Tribune
Updated: 06/08/2009 06:13:12 AM PDT

OAKLAND — Josue Lopez-Gil was only one year out of elementary school when he was shot and killed after dark on Memorial Day, a few blocks from his home. Police say the suspect is a 13-year-old classmate affiliated with a street gang, and that the shooting appeared to be gang-related.

Since then, many in the neighborhood have lived with the fear of retaliation — either against the alleged killer or against the young witnesses. A number of children at Josue’s middle school, Roots International, and his old elementary school, Lockwood, have received serious threats, said Laura Moran, the chief services officer for the Oakland Unified School District.

“I’ve gone to sleep every night just praying nothing is going to happen,” said Moran, who has assigned a police officer to the front of the middle school for the final days of the semester.

In a city and a region with widely divided incomes and lifestyles, the very nature of childhood differs dramatically by neighborhood, including the ability to live without fear or to make mistakes without potentially grave consequences.

For children in Oakland’s more violent areas, even decisions as seemingly harmless as the route home from school or their choice of friends could prove to have high stakes — even at the age of 9 or 10. Some learn as young as kindergarten to hit the ground when they hear gunshots, or to run home when they step off the bus. Gang-resistance training begins

OAKLAND — Josue Lopez-Gil was only one year out of elementary school when he was shot and killed after dark on Memorial Day, a few blocks from his home. Police say the suspect is a 13-year-old classmate affiliated with a street gang, and that the shooting appeared to be gang-related.

Since then, many in the neighborhood have lived with the fear of retaliation — either against the alleged killer or against the young witnesses. A number of children at Josue’s middle school, Roots International, and his old elementary school, Lockwood, have received serious threats, said Laura Moran, the chief services officer for the Oakland Unified School District.

“I’ve gone to sleep every night just praying nothing is going to happen,” said Moran, who has assigned a police officer to the front of the middle school for the final days of the semester.

In a city and a region with widely divided incomes and lifestyles, the very nature of childhood differs dramatically by neighborhood, including the ability to live without fear or to make mistakes without potentially grave consequences.

For children in Oakland’s more violent areas, even decisions as seemingly harmless as the route home from school or their choice of friends could prove to have high stakes — even at the age of 9 or 10. Some learn as young as kindergarten to hit the ground when they hear gunshots, or to run home when they step off the bus. Gang-resistance training begins

stef Posted by on Jun 7 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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