Jean Quan, district four city council member and president pro tempore, is organizing a group of citizen volunteers who will work with Oakland police to crack down on drivers speeding through their neighborhoods.

So far 20 volunteers have signed up for a two day training that will be conducted by Oakland police traffic officers. The training will show them how to use a hand-held radar gun purchased by Quan’s office for the program.

After they are trained, groups of three volunteers will take the radar gun to areas where speeding is common. They will clock the speed of cars and send speeders license plate numbers to police who will mail the speeders a warning letter. Volunteers will not have access to driver information.

The first speed trap will be set on 35th Ave. in the Redwood Heights area. Another group is organizing a trap for Skyline Blvd.


By Paul Gackle

Tears poured out of the eyes of Charlette Wallace as she hugged her sister, Carol, in celebration on the front steps of the Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland Thursday. A 12-man jury had just sentenced Willie “W.L” Thompson, 34, and LaVar “Mooney” Coleman, 27, to life in prison for the shooting death of her nephew, Dante Wallace.

“If you pray hard enough, things will come true,” she told her family. “Oh, thank you Jesus!”
The verdict put an end to the emotional four-week trial before Superior Court Judge Leo Dorado that determined accountability in a four-man shootout between childhood friends.


By Paul Gackle

OAKLAND – Are Willie “W.L” Thompson and LaVar “Mooney” Coleman murderers who hunted and killed two childhood friends like prey? Or were they acting in self-defense during the bloody four-man shootout that has torn neighbors, family and friends apart? Now, a jury will decide what happened during the early hours of April 25, 2004 in the East Oakland neighborhood know as, “the Village.”

In closing arguments of the double-homicide trial, Deputy District Attorney Chris Lamiero told jurors that Thompson and Coleman instigated the armed conflict that left Ronnell Hodge and Dante Wallace dead. He was responding to the defense’s claim that the two would have killed in self-defense if Hodges fired his .357 caliber revolver first.

“The law does not permit an act of self defense to be contrived. You cannot create a situation and then say you were acting in self defense,” he said.


OAKLAND – A suspected member of the East Oakland gang the Hyfee Boyz was charged Friday in connection with the Oct. 13  murder of San Leandro High School student and football player, Greg Ballard Jr., 17.

Oakland police used photos from the gang’s MySpace page to identify Dwayne M. Stancill, 19 who was arrested on Wednesday.

The Hyfee Boyz MySpace account has a dozen small photos that primarily feature young men throwing up hand signs to the camera.

Stancill is the son of San Leandro police Det. DeWayne Stancill. He was  arraigned at 2 p.m. at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

OAKLAND – Robert Antonio Romero, 29, of Oakland put his face in his hand as he was sentenced Friday to 31 years and eight months in the state penitentiary for carjacking and assault.

Four people, all family and friends, spoke on his behalf, but their pleas for leniency were not enough to soften the sentence of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jean Cartwright who was unsympathetic to their claims that the trial and the mandatory sentences for his crimes were unfair.

Cartwright interrupted Belinda Romero’s  assertion that Romero deserved leniency because she was not a good mother to him.

“Lots of people have hard lives,” Cartwright said.

Stop Black on Black Crime

It’s hard to find anyone who lives or works in Oakland who hasn’t been touched in some way by violent crime, but Roy Northington sees the crime wave’s effects more than most.

For the past 12 years Northington, 39, has been a mortician in Oakland. By his own estimate, he prepares an average of four bodies a month, using wax and cosmetics to repair the faces of people cut down by gun violence on the streets of Oakland.

“I ask myself when I will stop seeing young black men laid out on my table as their parents or grandparents are grieving,” Northington said.

He’s not the only one asking, but there are few visible signs of the community fighting back.

One big sign of resistance now hangs over the doors of the First African Methodist Episcopal church on Telegraph Avenue. A large white banner reading “Stop Black on Black Violence” lets the world know that the church is trying to put an end to the violence. And, the church is about to kick off a year of outreach events to engage neighborhood residents who’ve lost hope that the crime wave will end.



The West Oakland photo lab that housed a massive marijuana farm


By Maya Mirsky

Four arrests have been made in connection with a large pot-growing operation discovered by police in West Oakland on Oct. 9, the Drug Enforcement Agency said today.

The pot bust was one of the largest in history – and followed another even larger, but unrelated bust, at a house in East Oakland the previous day.

The four men arrested on state drug charges in the West Oakland incident are Jackson Wong, 23, Kevin Lieu, 28, Eric Tran, 32, and Joey Tran, 25.

All four of the men were released from the Glenn E. Dyer Detention Facility on Oct. 11 after having each posted $60,000 in bail.


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