Oakland mourns slain artist

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Oakland mourns slain artist

PHOTO BY KRIS STEWART

PHOTO BY KRIS STEWART

PHOTO BY KRIS STEWART

Kris Stewart,
Managing Editor

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The West Street underpass in West Oakland will forever be stamped by the work of local artist Antonio Ramos, 27, who was shot and killed Tuesday morning while he worked on a mural designed by Oakland middle school students that depicts a boy who has special powers to heal and stop violence.

After Oakland police received reports of gun shots near the West Street underpass, law enforcement arrived on the scene and found Ramos suffering from gunshot wounds, according to news reports. Ramos was working on a mural with other artists and got into an altercation with an unknown man. The argument escalated and the man shot the victim and ran away. Ramos was pronounced dead later that day.

The mural shows big green trees, Victorian homes and children in what appears to be a peaceful neighborhood.

PHOTO BY KRIS STEWART/THE PIONEEROakland residents have continued to gather around the mural under the 580 freeway since the incident, lighting candles, leaving flowers and notes of remembrance and prayers in the underpass.

“We’ve lost so many,” said Wanda Stewart, former executive director of People’s Grocery on Wednesday morning while taking photos on her smartphone, pacing back and forth viewing the incomplete mural.

“Antonio was just a remarkable artist,” said Brenda Collins, former employee of the Emeryville Unified School District. Collins worked for the EUSD for ten years but was let go in July 2014 due to budget cuts. Collins still has relationships with a lot of the children in the EUSD and just spent time with Ramos two weeks ago. She was in disbelief when she heard the news.

“On this same block there’s been two fatalities in less than a month. We just want to support the community and ask everybody to keep them up in prayer,”  Collins said. According to the OaklandMofo website, there have been three murders in West Oakland during the month of September.

PHOTO BY KRIS STEWART/THE PIONEER

The mural was sponsored by the Attitudinal Healing Connection of Oakland, a nonprofit organization who provides educational programs, events and workshops to develop community leadership and personal development skills.

“It’s just really shocking to know that happened to him,” said Ana Vasquez, an Emeryville resident who has been a neighbor of Ramos’ for years. “It’s very sad because I’ve known him for a long time. He was a good person. He loved skateboarding. He loved painting so, he was a real hipster.”

Friends of Ramos have set up an online fundraiser to raise money for his funeral costs. Since creating it Tuesday they have raised more than $19,000, over half of their goal of $25,000.

“It’s just life in Oakland,” said Vasquez. “I don’t think this happens everywhere.”