Senseless violence on the streets of Oakland has claimed the lives of many hopeful young people in recent months. As of Feb. 11, the city reported nine homicides this year, eight of which were young men and women under the age of 25. On Feb. 1, 18-year old Kiante Campbell
was shot and killed during the First Friday art festival in Downtown Oakland. A senior at Ralph J. Bunche High School, he was preparing to graduate this June.
Campbell, a foster kid, enrolled in the Highway to Work program last June and participated with the George P. Scotlan Youth and Family Center. After struggling to find housing, employment, and finish his education, Campbell was on the right track before his life was cut short. He had moved into his own apartment earlier this year and participated Jan. 31 in a fundraiser where the Scotlan Center honored Deputy Mayor Sandré Swanson.
Matthew Graves, executive director of the Scotlan Center, says Campbell was a hard worker who was conscientious about what he had to do. Graves, also the pastor of A Bay Area Community Ministry in Oakland, said providing resources for youth development has helped keep young people that come through his program on a clear path.
“[Kiante] was moving towards getting his diploma; he was turning his life around,” Graves said. “He was a good kid. Right at that moment when they turn it around, when they get to a point where the confusion stops and they see a future-he reached it and wanted to do something positive,” he said.
“We have our kids dying out here. We’re in that daily struggle to get support. This is a full-time problem and a full-time issue,” Graves said.
The news of another young person killed in Oakland is shattering. As family and friends celebrate the life of Kiante Campbell, a hopeful young student, what needs to be done about the violence in this city?