Once again, tragedy has struck in Oakland. Four police officers and one dangerous criminal were left dead after a murderous rampage on Saturday, March 21. Today, the Bay Area honors the four Oakland Police Officers, Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai, who confronted 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon and lost their lives in the process. Mixon was out on parole after being in prison for five years because of a carjacking and assault charge. We have since found out that Mixon was even more menacing than previously known as he is now being linked to the rape of a 12-year-old girl and five other women in East Oakland, all within the last few months.
Today, as I drove to work, a parade of ambulances, police cars, fire trucks and police motorcycles drove by me in silence with just their lights flashing. I live in the North Bay, which is about 35 minutes from Oakland, and the brigade that drove by me came from Windsor, Santa Rosa, Healdsburg and other areas of Sonoma County, even further north than where I am. The sight of all of these public servants traveling together to honor one of their own was incredibly moving. Similar processions are taking place all over the bay area, as I speak (or write). It has been reported that over 18,000 people will attend today’s funeral, which will be held at Oracle Arena in Oakland, and that all 815 members of the Oakland Police Department will be in attendance. Other Bay Area police agencies will cover the streets so that these officers can attend the funeral of their colleagues. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Attorney General Jerry Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will also be in attendance. Other police agencies from around the country will also attend, as well as Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The support that has been shown for the police since this tragic event has been heartwarming but also eye-opening. Even after news of what kind of person Mixon was came out, about 60 people rallied in support of him and against the police. Something that is just mind-boggling to me. The tension between the police and the people of Oakland has been very high for a long time, especially after the New Years Day shooting by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police of a 21-year-old unarmed man that left him dead. The officer who shot the young man is awaiting trial for murder. It is no secret that police in Oakland are not considered “friends” by most.
However, the awful tragedy of these four police officers shines a lot of light on an incredibly difficult situation in Oakland, one of the most crime-ridden cities in our nation. We want the police to get the danger off our streets, but we have made them out to be bad guys, rather than good guys. Granted, I am the first to admit I have a prejudice against police sometimes. I have seen them talk on their cell phones while driving (I thought that was illegal in California?), heard stories of abuse of power and incompetence, and gotten mad when they pull me over for going too fast, even though I know I am in the wrong. However, they are out there doing their jobs and sacrificing their lives to make our cities safer. We may not always like it, but we would be a lot worse off without them. Sometimes we lose sight of this and this situation has really brought awareness to Oakland about the need to turn prejudiced feelings around, on both sides.
These four officers did not die in vain as Oakland now has one less criminal on its streets because of them. And hopefully, this community can start to work together to overcome the problems it faces. Already, the community of Oakland has rallied in the thousands to show their dismay with the crime in their city. Fixing this problem definitely won’t be easy and it will not happen overnight, but something has to change if we ever want our communities to be safe.
NOTE: A fund has been set up for the families of these police officers. If anyone is interested in donating, please go to: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/east_bay&id=6724476
For More Info on Funeral Services and about this story go to: www.abc7news.com.
Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Oakland Police Department)