Alcohol smashed in Oakland, CaliforniaUpdate 12/1: The store that was set on fire was looted yesterday, and a community meeting was held to discuss the liquor stores:
"People want a grocery store in the community," Pastor Raymond Lankford said. "They want more variety certainly more fruits, more vegetables other than the liquor they're selling. There used to be grocery stores. We don't have grocery stores in West Oakland anymore."
See also Sunni Sister's blog entry on this issue: Pops
Update: 11/28: One of the two alcohol stores that was trashed was set on fire (police say arson) and was completely gutted.
Thank you everone for commenting here on ihsan, and on the indybay site. Maybe I've been a bit harsh in this blog entry - but this is a very serious matter. And I agree that trashing up these stores is not an answer, still, at the same time - we have to find ways to address these issues.
Here is excerpt from one of the comments on Indybay - giving some more background on these stores.
"Community leaders wanted to reduce crime and related problems linked to liquor stores. They pressured city leaders to revise city regulations governing those businesses. The new law created an Alcohol Beverage Action Team charged with responding to complaints, performing investigations, conducting minor-decoy operations and bringing repeat violators before hearing officers. If necessary, the ordinance provides for revoking a store operator's business permit. click here to read
A soon-to-be-released book by sociologist Robert Nash Parker, "Alcohol and Homicide: A Deadly Combination of Two American Traditions," cites a 20-year study of 256 U.S. cities demonstrating that alcohol outlet density has a significant effect on that area's homicide rates, and that the nationwide increase in outlet density from 1960 to 1980 played a major role in the skyrocketing violence during that period. click here to read
With adjustment for demographic and socioeconomic characteristics at the census tract level, every unit increase in liquor license density is associated with a 9% increase in domestic violence click here to read
"What is the relationship between outlet density and violence? A number of studies have found that in and near neighborhoods where there is a high density of places that sell alcohol, there is a higher rate of violence. That is, when bars, liquor stores, and other businesses that sell alcohol are close together, more assaults and other violent crimes occur. click here to read
updated 11/27 - scroll down...
Wednesday, near midnight, about a dozen or more African-Americans, apparently of Muslim background smashed two alcohol stores (owned by Muslims of Arab background) in Oakland, California.
Before we go about doing our usual round of condemnations - lets take a look at some facts:
1. Oakland has a poverty rate of nearly 20%. However, for the area (near West Oakland) where these two stores were located, this rate is far higher: upwards of 60 to 70%, and the residents are primarily African American and Latino Mexican and Central American backrounds).
2. Oakland has over 350 liquor stores, and, in some of the poorest areas - there are two or three of these "stores" (call 'em drug pushers) on a single block! This means that the bulk of these stores are located in poor neighborhoods.
3. Community activists in Oakland have been attempting to restrict and shut down some of the worst liquor stores for some time - but have had little success because alcohol is a legal substance. A very mild and ineffective voluntary measure is in effect that close the liquor stores down at 12:00 A.M. instead of 2:00 A.M.
4. Alcohol (along with other drugs) has been pushed in many inner cities of the US - includng East Oakland. The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth notes that alcohol has been marketed to underage African Americans:
• Two formats—Urban Contemporary and Rhythmic Contemporary Hit—with music types including R&B, rap, hip-hop, house, and dance, accounted for almost 70% of the alcohol advertising reaching underage African-American youth on radio.
5. According to a recent study (pdf), neighbourhood violence goes way up as the numbers of alcohol outlets increase:The strong connection between alcohol and violence has been clear for a long time – but now we know that this connection also relates to the location of places that sell alcohol.The TV news coverage came up with a "Qur'an expert" who did the usual, robot like, condemnations (is there a standard condemnation form online somewhere?). But he said not a word about the role that these stores play in the destruction of communities, families, and especially the youth of the neighbourhoods.
And so you can expect that the usual suspects will line up to condemn this act. But that does not at all address very fundamental questions about alcohol stores, and exactly what are Muslims doing selling alcohol in the first place, and that too in very poor inner city neighborhoods. Not just in Oakland - but all over the United States!
Maybe asking such questions about Muslims is not very progressive of me - but they do need to be asked.
In an article on racial tension in the American Umma, Kelly Crosby wrote:But one of his (Kelly's father) comments stayed with me long after we finished talking. He said, "there is no way for African-American Muslims and immigrant Muslims to come together on anything in this community until we all address the problem of Muslim-owned cornerstores."And so pardon me if I don't shed any tears when I watch the video of alcohol being smashed.
Update: There is an interesting conversation/debate/flame on the Indybay web site click here to view/participate.
A couple of excerpts from some of the comments:"While people can make their choices on their own (as well they should,) a closer look at both the presence of liquor stores and the presence of crack and heroin in these communities doesn't paint a healthy picture. As such, the line between providing ample access and shoving it down people's throats is finer than you think. I do think its messed up that an individual shop owner was targeted -- just another example of ordinary people being divided against each other in the midst of a genocidal war. But I can also understand how people get to that breaking point."
"There are 3 liquor stores within 6 blocks but not a real grocery store for miles. Literally miles.
"I do see where people might come to seriously resent these stores, though, and it's so ironic than many are run by Muslims who would never partake in what they are selling in poor neighborhoods everyday -- things I myself buy. But a good bit of anger should also go towards companies like Safeway who pulled their last store out of the neighborhood about 6 years ago (they had one on Broadway). Even older grocery stores in the area are now scraggly church's. There is a Whole Foods coming about a mile or so from here, but it will be a madhouse when it opens as the first return of a real grocery store in years and years to a long underserved neighborhood."