An American Civil Liberties Union lawyer and criminal justice advocate said she and her family were caught in crossfire when bullets penetrated the walls of her home in Oakland, California.
Allyssa Victory said she and her family were not injured in the incident that unfolded Friday night.
“This is kind of regular for my neighborhood, to constantly hear sirens and hear a lot of commotion and chaos happening,” Victory told KTVU. “It doesn’t feel good for it to hit so close to home. I’m thankful that my family is safe.”
Victory and her family, including her husband and father-in-law, were cleaning in the kitchen at about 10:30 p.m. Friday night and her teenage godson was sleeping in a bedroom when she heard what sounded like 10 gunshots on her block of 21st Avenue in the San Antonio neighborhood.
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A bullet came into her dining room area and another bullet came through her kitchen wall, exiting into a different room.
“It spread debris all over the dishes we had just washed,” she said. “We were a bit rattled.”
Victory quickly checked on her family members to make sure they were alright, inspected her home and walked outside where she observed a large police presence, within about a minute of the shooting.
Oakland police said at least one person fired a gun in the 2100 block of Commerce Way and that one person went to a hospital and said they had been shot. No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.
As no stranger to crime, Victory’s neighborhood is often the sight of sexual violence and shootings, and she says she cannot afford to move away even if she wanted to.
After being homeless at times during her childhood, she now advocates for underserved communities through working on food and clothing drives at her church, as well as being a social justice organizer with Oakland’s Youth Together.
Victory is a staff attorney for the Criminal Justice Program at the ACLU of Northern California, where she works on police reform and law enforcement accountability and oversight. She also ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Oakland in 2022, losing to Mayor Sheng Thao.
Earlier on Friday, Victory’s best friend was caught in the crossfire in a different location in East Oakland.
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Victory said she had never experienced bullets penetrating through her home as she was inside.
“It’s unusual for it to hit this close to home, literally,” Victory said. “But sadly, this is regular. It seems normalized in some ways.”
“I mean, I’ve been witnessing crime my whole life, growing up in Oakland,” she added.
Witnessing this type of crime, Victory explained, is part of the reason she decided to pursue a career in criminal justice.
“I wanted to help be an intervention, to understand criminal justice and its policies, how to make a real difference in everyday people’s lives,” she said. “It makes me want to double down on my efforts to do more direct work and engage with our youth, with families, by providing people with services for healing or for trauma.”
In Oakland, violent crimes jumped 21% in 2023 compared to the year before, while vehicle thefts increased 45%, robberies rose 38% and burglaries were up 23%. Homicides, meanwhile, remained steady at about 120 apiece in 2022 and 2023.
“There’s a lot of truth behind the ‘crime is happening,’ I would never deny that. It just happened last night in front of my house,” Victory said.
She also said she wants to avoid perpetuating fearmongering and not become so fearful of crime that she stays inside to escape it. She explained that she believes the solution to crime is not to simply put people behind bars.
“There needs to be a larger narrative that ‘this is not new,'” Victory said. “This didn’t just start last year or two years ago. This neighborhood in particular has been known for high rates of violence and of crime, and there hasn’t been a lot of change in that over decades.”
“So, some of the current things we’ve been doing over those decades are not working, and we’re not having a real conversation about that and just pushing out the narrative that people are criminals or people should move,” she added.
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Victory said there is always a large police presence in her neighborhood, so she thinks adding more cops would not have prevented the gunfire. She also claimed that Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price is charging cases that come to her with the proper evidence and policing protocols adhered to.
She said working in the criminal justice system does not exempt her from the impacts of crime and violence, but that she still has not lost her progressive worldview.
“There’s still usually more to people than just the crime or the violence that they are committing,” Victory said. “And if we can intervene earlier with public services, ensure there’s housing and show we have strong education systems, those are things that can help prevent crime from happening in the first place.”