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Families remember loved ones lost to violence

on September 27, 2010

People at the PURPLE Gala

OPD’s Sgt. George Phillips and Lt. Brian Medeiros and retired schoolteacher Arlene Johnson were honors at the PURPLE Gala.

Laughter, prayer, song and tears marked Saturday night’s third annual PURPLE Fundraising Gala for the families and friends of those who have lost their lives to violence.

The PURPLE Gala, whose named stands for Prayer Unity Restoration Love Empowerment, was organized by the Oakland-based advocacy group 1,000 Mothers to Prevent Violence.  The event was held to recognize two Oakland police investigators and a retired schoolteacher for having gone “beyond the call of duty to bring healing to surviving families.”

“We want to thank these three for how much they’ve done to help people heal,” said 1,000 Mothers founder Lorrain Taylor, who in 2000 lost her twin sons, Albade and Obadiah, to gun violence. Both were shot by a lone gunman while working on a car in Oakland.  They were 22 years old.

The honorees were Sergeant George Phillips and Lieutenant Brian Medeiros of the Oakland Police Department’s homicide unit, and Arlene Johnson, a retired schoolteacher of 37 years whose daughter was murdered in 1992. Johnson’s 20-year-old grandson was killed last year within a block of their Oakland home.  She was named “Mother of the Year” by the group, which was founded in 2004 under the name 24/7 Gospel.

“If you see the news, we have more mothers we have to wrap our arms around,” said Margaret Dixon, a retired Oakland police officer and the gala emcee. “If we all work together we can all make a difference.”

A t-shirt from the event.

The PURPLE Gala is an annual fundraiser to support 1,000 Mothers to Prevent Violence, an Oakland-based bereavement and advocacy group.

“This is the ultimate loss, the loss of someone’s son, daughter, relative,” said assistant police chief Howard Jordan. “We’re asked to intervene in these unfortunate circumstances, and we owe it to the family members to help move forward.”

The gala was held at Oakland’s Regeneration Church near Lake Merritt. “Your presence here tonight is encouraging me, and encouraging many mothers who lost their children to gun violence to move forward,” said Taylor.

The officers were singled out for their work with the homicide unit, and for their continued support for the families of the murdered individuals—in particular, their participation with 1,000 Mothers’ support groups. There have been 61 homicides in Oakland this year, down 20 percent from this time last year.

“It’s an honor to be recognized,” said Medeiros. “We’re just trying to help out the friends and families left behind, to be there. It makes a difference.”

Image: Lorrain Taylor, seen here praying, founded 1,000 Mothers to Prevent Violence as a response to the deaths of her two sons.


  1. Anita Wills on June 29, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    It is interesting to me that you would honor Lt. Maderias without checking his record on Civil Rights. My grandson was murdered on January 16, 2011 and OPD has done nothing to find who killed him. My attempts to find out where they investigation is have been rebuffed at every turn. They even called my grandsons mother and told her I was impeding their investigation. The man you are honoring is the head of the Homicide Department. The OPD has the lowest rate of crime solving of all of the Urban Police Departments. It is sad that our community is so desperate for heroes that we celebrate those who abuse our community.

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