by Oakland Bureau Chief JR Valrey
Aug. 8, the day after getting the news that Kali O’Ray, the director of the San Francisco Black Film Festival, passed away, I got the news that my cousin’s cousin “Cuban Pete” was murdered in Oakland in a different incident, and my comrade Chester from the Black Panther Commemoration Committee was also shot in a separate incident still. This was in addition to a dreaded text from one of my friends that I have known for most of my life, that her sons had been shot.
Iesha James is not just an average friend, she is the woman who first introduced me to a journalism program that led to me becoming a part of Youth Outlook and later the San Francisco Bay View newspaper, which is where I have been, along with the Block Report, for most of my career.
“We were at home. We were unloading the vehicles. We had just left McDonald’s. The boys had food in their hands, and we were walking through the security to our house. I told one, to hold the gate for the other two, while I went to open the door. Upon opening the door, I saw a flash of fire, in my bathroom window, which is directly across from the front door,” said Iesha James.
“Then I heard my oldest yell, ‘I’ve been shot!’ while my youngest screamed from getting grazed. The moment I heard them yell, I ran back down the stairs instantly to the both of them to find my oldest laying on the ground in a pool of McDonald’s food, blood and chaos.
“At that point, my neighbors started to open the doors across the street, and I yelled for help. It wasn’t long before the community started coming around, and one of my neighbors took his belt off and tied it around my oldest’s leg to hamper the bleeding.”
On Friday, Aug. 7, two of the three teenage sons of Iesha James were struck by stray bullets on Hawley Street in the 69th Village, a low income neighborhood in East Oakland. The one who was grazed is 11, and the other is 14 years old.
“Jeremiah Riley is a sophomore at Oakland High School. He was an honor roll recipient, is a member of the Wildcats basketball team, a AAU Bay Area Mustang team member, an intern for Brothers on the Rise and also an intern for Intelligent Minds Positive On Purpose. He’s a former football player for Pop Warner Eastbay Warriors and Tracy Rampage (football teams), and he’s a youth leader at Olivet Institutional Missionary Baptist Church.
“Then I heard my oldest yell, ‘I’ve been shot!’ while my youngest screamed from getting grazed.
“The moment that it hit me that my son got shot, he was in the ambulance and I was running to my car to follow. Because of COVID-19, I couldn’t ride with him. Once I entered my vehicle, I was immediately emotional, crying, screaming, yelling and pounding the steering wheel in anger and rage that my son was shot,” said an exhausted Iesha James.
“He was shot in the femur bone, and it was shattered. They put him in a soft leg cast with a weight. He went to surgery at 3 p.m. the next day, for two hours, while they attached a rod and four screws to his femur bone.
“When my son arrived at the hospital, he said that he never wants to go back home (which is the geographic location where he was shot). My mother and my sister packed up my entire apartment and put it in storage,” said Iesha James.
In 2020, during the Fourth of July weekend, 6-year-old Jace Young was killed in Hunters Point, San Francisco, while in the same weekend five other innocent children were hit in Atlanta, Chicago, Hoover, Alabama, and Washington, D.C. This year, stray bullets hitting innocent Black children in our neighborhoods has been a disturbing trend.
In this case, a mother has to respond to her shot and traumatized sons by all means, no matter the cost. People who have been victims of violent crime can definitely relate.
“This is an emergency displacement that financially I am not prepared for, but the move is still in progress. I am looking for immediate temporary placement in the East Bay, because I need to be near Children’s Hospital in Oakland. I am also looking for a permanent house that is low income and three-bedroom.
“I can’t work, because I have to monitor a 14-year-old who can’t get around on his own. He can’t go to the bathroom, he can’t bathe himself or get dressed without assistance, especially because he cannot put any weight or pressure on his right leg for six weeks.
So I have a GoFundMe, “Help Rebuild Jeremiah, 14-Year-Old Shot in Drive-by.”
If you would like to assist financially, you could also contact Iesha James directly through firstname.lastname@example.org and Venmo: @JamesIesha or Cashapp: $jamesiesha.
SF Bay View Oakland Bureau Chief JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of the Black New World Journalists Society, can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook. Visit www.youtube.com/blockreporttv.