Edward Powell’s daughter, Annie, was bidding good night to her friends and siblings in the early morning hours of May 21, 2004, when a bullet caught her in the back and killed her.
The seemingly random shooting began a journey of despair, revenge and frustration for Powell, a 63-year-old longshoreman and native San Franciscan. After the death of his daughter, Powell began to carry a gun, he said. "I was prepared to go kill them," he said of her killers.
But when, in July, he saw one of the men in an auto parts store, he was unarmed. He had stopped carrying a gun, but usually kept a knife handy; it had fallen out of his pocket the night before.
"I came to the conclusion that it was divine providence that saved this bastard and saved me from committing a crime I'd later be sorry for," Powell said.
Stories such as Powell’s brought the San Francisco Police Commission to the Bayview on Wednesday to hear residents and community groups speak about the violence plaguing their area of The City.
The City’s homicide rate for 2006 is hovering at 69. It was at 57 at this time in 2005, which ended with 96 homicides, a 10-year high.
Representatives from groups such as Community Leadership Academy Emergency Response, Mothers of Murdered Children, the African American Community Police Relations Board and the True Hope Church of Christ described to the commission the effects of violence on the community and made suggestions to help improve relations between police and the community and to begin to reduce the homicide rate.
"It’s not just about the police, it’s about all of us," Sharon Hewitt, director of CLAER, testified. The group stressed cooperation between city agencies to help at-risk youth change their lives before they commit crimes, staffer Ayinde Loudd, 25, said, pointing to himself as a success story. It also called for the Police Department to post photos of homicide victims in the neighborhood, along with the department’s anonymous tip line.
Commissioners listened as some speakers expressed frustration at the lack of traction in curbing violence and drugs in the neighborhood.
"With all of our capabilities, you mean to tell me that we can’t stop drug dealers from standing on the corner selling rock?" Pastor Aurelius Walker, of the True Hope Church of Christ, firstname.lastname@example.org