by Kimberly B. Johnson
A Bay Area artist was shot and killed yesterday, Tuesday, September 29 as he worked on a community mural in West Oakland. The mural depicted a view of the Oakland landscape–now a tragic reminder of the events that took place Tuesday morning at the 3500 block of West Street under Interstate 580. The victim’s family, friends, and the community are now working to digest and overcome this caustic act of violence.
27-year-old Antonio Ramos of Emeryville was one volunteer of a team of 60 working on a 4,000-square-foot mural in conjunction with ArtEsteem, the literacy and art sector of community organizing group Attitudinal Healing Connection. Police spokeswoman, Officer Johnna Watson, said police responded to reports of gunshots in the 3500 block of West Street where they found Ramos suffering from gunshot wounds. According to Watson, a single, male assailant walked up to the area where the artists were working, shot Ramos, and walked away. Witnesses claim the assailant appeared to be a total stranger to Ramos; an investigation is currently taking place to uncover the specifics of what led up to the homicide.
ArtEsteem's aims are to install anti-violence and community-centric murals throughout Oakland, which has seen 71 homicides in 2015. Ramos' involvement with the organization began three years ago, when he walked past a crew creating a mural and simply asked if he could help–he had worked with the group ever since. Fellow artist and friend, Dave Young Kim, told the San Francisco Gate, “That’s just the kind of kid he was. He was super willing to help. He was very reliable and just had the sort of naiveté that was so fun to be around.”
Ramos was an unpaid volunteer in the midst of working on the Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project, a collaboration with West Oakland middle-school students. Children from the community were scheduled to begin painting alongside the artists today–instead, a candlelight vigil for Ramos will take place.
—Kimberly B. Johnson
(Image: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle)