Rifles, Helmets and Riot Shields

SWAT image
Photo Credit: Operational Skills Group

This morning at 5 am, I jolted awake from a big BOOM! It felt like a bomb went off in the front room.

I knew that J had an early call at work. In my fog of being yanked out of a deep sleep, I thought that perhaps C had slammed the front door after dropping off J at work.

I ran out of my bed, and called out C’s name. He was standing by the front door, completely startled, which is unusual for him.

We both instinctively knew not to peek out the window for this one.

Eventually, we both took a look.  The picture above, while not of this morning’s event, is similar to what we saw in the early morning darkness. Rifles, helmets and riot shields.

Apparently, the Oakland Police Department did a gang-related crime sweep this morning.  

One of those raids happened right in front of the house where I live, at a neighbor’s house right across the narrow street.

It wasn’t a surprise to any of us peeking out from behind the curtains that the specific house that got raided was on the Oakland Police Department’s sweep list.

I’ve witnessed over the years how the state in Mexico that R and I live in became more visibly militarized, due to the so-called, “war against drugs” led by Mexico’s previous president, Felipe Calderón. R and I saw how our busy block went deathly quiet. R and I saw armed soldiers on the landing of our front stoop, leaning casually on our door, finger on the trigger of their automatic rifle. R and I saw military tanks parked right outside our living room window on more than one occasion.

In today’s early morning darkness, I thought about how Oakland and Mexico are connected. That what happens in one country is intimately connected to what happens in the other. That drug production and drug consumption are siren songs that flout borders.

The front bay window of the neighbor’s house across the street was blown out by a sonic weapon. That was the boom that probably shook the whole neighborhood awake. There are reports that flashbang grenades were also used during the raids. 

Later this morning, a neighbor who lives next door to the raided house came over to help with a blue vacuum cleaner, a broom, and willing hands.

Sweeps of all kinds going on this morning in Oakland. Sweeps of all kinds.

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