"Often while traveling with a camera we arrive just as the sun slips over the horizon of a moment, too late to expose film, only time enough to expose our hearts." Minor White

Monday, July 22, 2013

Trayvon Martin, Oakland and the night I got mugged... AGAIN!

On July 13, 2013, a Floridian jury declared that George Zimmerman was not guilty of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges in the shooting death of an unarmed, black teenager, Trayvon Martin upholding the state's stand your ground law.

This is the only frame I have shot of the protests that followed for several days here in Oakland and it has taken me sometime to post this image which was shot last Monday due to circumstances that were out of my control and the emotional impact of them.

The story is as follows: Shortly after taking this photograph I was mugged with two other of my  fellow photographers by six people along Lakeshore Avenue on the east side of Lake Merritt here in Oakland.

As we walked along the east side of the lake, ironically we were discussing the horrific amount of violence we have been witness to as residents of Oakland, when we passed a group of six young men all in their early twenties.  All three of us continued our conversation and as we approached the corner of Wayne  and Lakeshore Avenues, two of the young men stepped directly in front of me and  blocked the sidewalk. This is when it clicked.  I have been mugged before. I knew it. We were all going to be mugged.  "RUN" I yelled and tried to scramble up into the bushes and out of reach, but I slipped and by the time I regained my balance one of the young men was standing over me. " Give me your camera. Give me your camera " he yelled.

"NO"! I yelled back it is at this point I remember that I have pepper spray in my pocket. (purchased after my previous mugging ) I tried to reason with my assailant. "Come on we're nice people. We just came from the Trayvon protest. You don't want to do this" I said. 

"Well then give me your phone" he said. 

All this mind you, happened in a matter of minutes, but it felt like an eternity. As I fished around in my pocket for the pepper spray  I told myself. "Colleen just don't drop it. Don't drop the pepper spray. You can do this"! I pulled the small black canister out of my pocket and aimed it at the mugger and was filled with an incredible amount of angry and my fear towards this man who was trying to steal my camera began to disappear. 

"She's got pepper spray" he yelled.  All six of the men ran. We gave chase. I don't know why. 

But we chased them for over a quarter mile. They ditched my friend bike they had taken and hopped into a car. We lost them, but not before a random stranger took down their license plate and helped us call the police. 

I was able to keep my equipment but my friends lost a Nikon film camera, several lenses, filters,  money, house keys, drivers license, a backpack with unopened birthday cards and a mac book pro in it. 

Oh yeah and we all lost our sense of being safe in our own community. I know, we all know it IS not safe to walk around Oakland by yourself at night but now I can not even feel safe in a group of people. Oakland, Oakland, Oakland. Where to begin with the issues that plague Oakland? In fact I was surprised that Oakland even had the police available to respond in the first place.  Tell me again about how we live in a post-racial America that doesn't practice class warfare on the poorest of its citizens, please.