Killer's cousin pays tribute to Oakland cops

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

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(03-31) 22:17 PDT Oakland -- Caroline Mixon stood at a podium Tuesday and looked out at hundreds of people who had gathered for a prayer service two blocks from where her cousin gunned down four Oakland police officers 10 days earlier.

"To the police officers, our sympathy goes out to you," she said. "We thank you so much for how you serve and protect the city of Oakland as well."

<<Related story: Hundreds mourn man who killed police officers>>

The crowd, assembled in a parking lot of the Eastmont Mall, broke out in applause. As they clapped, Mixon emphasized her point: "They do."

A counselor for a faith-based battered women's shelter, Mixon said she has called police to protect her clients and police have responded and helped.

"So I don't push them to the side," she said. "We embrace them."

Mixon's speech was one of several testimonies and prayers offered by ministers and residents in the fading light of early evening, a time when many in the gritty neighborhood typically head inside. They prayed for all people in the city, asked for residents to be calm amid the tense aftermath of the shootings and encouraged neighborhoods to attend community policing meetings.

Some had walked to the vigil from the neighborhood. Others had driven from places like Piedmont, the Montclair district and Walnut Creek. The gathering was meant to help people, particularly Oakland residents, reckon with the painful events of March 21.

On that day, fugitive parolee Lovelle Mixon, 26, fatally shot Officer John Hege, 41, and Sgts. Mark Dunakin, 40, Daniel Sakai, 35, and Ervin Romans, 43.

Among those at Tuesday's vigil was Oakland police Officer Mildred Oliver.

Born and raised in Oakland, Oliver is the president of the Oakland Black Officers Association, a group Oliver said was created in 1970 out of a desire that the Police Department work better with all of the communities it is supposed to serve.

"I need to say this," Oliver said as she approached the microphone. "To the Mixon family, my prayers are with you as well."

The crowd responded with amens and cheers. Oliver, in uniform, wept silently for perhaps 30 seconds as a pastor comforted her with a hand on the shoulder.

"I would like to thank all of you for your support during this most difficult time in our department and our city," she said. "I ask you to pray for us and with us as we continue to provide quality service to the citizens of Oakland, the kind of service you expect and deserve."

The gathering was organized by Pastors of Oakland, a coalition of mostly black ministers that is trying to build a citywide coalition to respond to the violence on the streets. The group has five goals: praying for Oakland and all its inhabitants, from police to parolees; uniting the city's churches; doing street outreach in every neighborhood; voter registration; and economic empowerment for the impoverished sections of town.

The gathering was more a worship than a political rally. "There has been healing tonight," said Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ.

The Rev. Doug Stevens, former pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Walnut Creek, said heaven knows no bounds of color or class, but he alluded to the fact that people don't live that way on Earth.

"This is a preview of the day that will come," he said. "Why not live it now?"

E-mail Matthai Kuruvila at

This article appeared on page B - 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle



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