Joshua Daniels is a name you know if you, for whatever reason, follow the Twitter hashtags #Oakland and #OakMtg. He posts there on what seems to be an every-other-day basis. In fact, that’s how this blogger – er, me – got to become acquainted with him.
Though relatively new to Oakland, like many who fit his profile of white, male or female, and between 20 and 40 years of age, Joshua Daniels cares about Oakland. So much so that he has made a habit of following Oakland politics, restaurants, and people. He’s come to embrace the town, even if sometimes there’s a person or two in Oakland who may not embrace him.
One of those people took things a too far in the direction of a level of violence that could have killed Joshua Daniels last Sunday morning. I saw mention of an attack on Google Alerts for Oakland, recognized it was Josh, so I emailed him, asking what happened. Here’s his explanation:
Yeah, it happened about 8:30 AM on a sunny Sunday morning, right by the OPD offices in Ogawa Plaza.
There were two public works guys blowing leaves, but only one assaulted me. Both were African-American, and the guy who assaulted me was probably in his late 30s or in his 40s (he had salt and pepper hair), with a mustache. About 6’0″ or so and probably about 210-230lbs (he outweighed me by at least 30 lbs.). The other guy said a few things, but was wearing a backpack-mounted leaf blower and didn’t attack me. He was younger, probably in his 30s. I think he had a mustache too, but my attention was mainly focused on the guy doing most of the talking.
I have no idea what the motivation was. I can’t imagine they really got that mad about me spitting some gum in a trash bin. A few weeks ago I was getting some random threats from people on the street when some TV media outlets portrayed me as “protesting” at the vigil of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine, when I just went there with @TDLove5 to show my respects. No idea if this is related to that or not. They told me several times “you don’t belong here,” but that sounded really cryptic to me and I didn’t know if it was anything race-based at all.
OPD said they are going to have me look at some pictures today or tomorrow. My phone with video on it is missing, but was turned on yesterday briefly but long enough for “Find My iPhone” to locate it. Looks like it was at the Uptown Apartments (screenshot attached).
I asked Josh for a more detailed description of his attacker. I’m trying to get everyone in Oakland to move beyond just a color description, and work to actually look at people as individuals. At any rate, this is what Josh wrote:
Yeah, they were both wearing those lime green shirts with the City of Oakland patch on the sleeve. I thought they were Parks and Rec at first, but maybe they were Public Works….The only other descriptors I could give is that his (the attacker’s) face was more roundish than angular or square…Also, not a very dark skin tone — medium complexion….No beard that I remember. I do remember a mustache. He wasn’t wearing glasses at the time. Normal eyes, and I don’t remember the nose. He was wearing a ball cap, so I don’t know if he was balding or not…The part I’m least sure about is the salt and pepper hair. I was filming him with my phone, and I remember that from when I was filming. Not a lot of gray, but I remember some flecks. It was really bright, and lots of sun, which can sometimes play tricks with hair color though.
The whole incident reads as massively weird and racist. The first question would be what would two City of Oakland workers be doing blowing leaves on a Sunday morning? It, to me, just reads wrong at first glance.
But upon speculation it may be that the two workers weren’t standard City Of Oakland workers, but the kind of people doing weekend work as part of some kind of court-ordered punishment. It’s routine for public works organizations to offer street-cleaning work as part of a DUI-related fine by a court, and I know that because I did it myself in 2006.
That’s the only explanation that would seem to make sense to me. I can’t see a City of Oakland worker risking their bacon to attack someone, anyone – like Joshua Daniels.
But, given the wide range of types of people who get such court-ordered work, I could see some crazy nut being assigned to that Sunday job, and then going off on Mr. Daniels for a misperceived slight. It reads as racist on top of that: the temp worker perhaps insulted with Mr. Daniels’ “upper class” white affect, and hauling off on him strickly for reasons stemming from the temp workers fucked-up issues with someone like Josh.
Whatever the reason for the attack, it was wrong and the temp worker should be punished. But if I’m right about this guy being part of court-ordered work, then such an action would be a violation of probation.
Whatever, Joshua Daniels doesn’t feel safe in Oakland. “This is the second time I’ve been assaulted rather badly just blocks from my apartment in 2 years. Plus I’ve just seen so much violence around here that I just associate my neighborhood with violence. I was diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) about a year ago as a result of it. This certainly isn’t going to help my PTSD.”
For me, as I told Josh, I’ve never in my life walked around Downtown Oakland on a Sunday morning. It’s the last place I’d think of to be unless there was a running race like the Oakland Marathon, where there’s tons of people. But on a normal Sunday? Nope.
The last time I had cause to walk in Downtown Oakland on a Sunday, was to check my car as I was staying with a woman I was dating at the time who lived in the first set of Old Oakland apartments next to Swan’s Market. That was it. Sunday mornings are for Church, or sleeping in, or breakfast in bed. But I don’t walk around Downtown Oakland in the morning, and I told Josh he shouldn’t either.
But that said, he has the right to do so without being attacked. Now, it may have been that the attacker thought Josh, in spitting gum into a trash can, was basically spitting at them as they were working. But even then, administering a butt kicking was just out of line.