Oakland ‘healing centers’ help ease Ferguson pain
The City of Oakland opened healing centers Monday night to help residents respond peacefully to the grand jury‘s decision in the Michael Brown case.
The grand jury delivered the decision about 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time. In partnership with community groups, the city opened four centers located at 2580 San Pablo Ave., 1485 Eighth St., 2300 International Blvd., and 8711 MacArthur Blvd. from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The centers were open again Tuesday until 8 p.m.
Karen Boyd, assistant to Oakland’s city administrator, said of people’s feelings after the grand jury decision:
“These are hard issues.”
Boyd said the centers were successful in helping about 100 people deal with grief, concerns and frustrations after the decision. Using a center is much more constructive than breaking glass, especially for Oakland’s youth, Boyd said.
Vandalism can put a youth’s future and life in jeopardy. As many as 50 or more youth attended the four centers. At the center in East Oakland, Bishop Bob Jackson of Oakland’s Acts Full Gospel Church, said youth had an opportunity to express what they thought was wrong with the decision.
Jackson and youth also took four and a half minutes of silence to remember Brown who spent four and a half hours on the ground after the shooting. Jackson said:
“That began a lot of healing.”
For the serious minded, the centers are something residents need to start working to prevent future deaths in similar circumstances, Jackson said, such as the killings of Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin.
Gerald Agee, pastor, Friendship Christian Center, and president of the Pastors of Oakland, said:
“The healing centers were something to do.”
Agee spent time Monday night at the center on San Pablo Avenue. He appreciates the city’s proactive approach. “I thought it was good,” he said. A total of about 100 residents took advantage of the centers, which Oakland has opened during past civil uprisings.