Oakland residents hold memorial bike ride for Terrence McCrary Jr.
on October 4, 2016
It was just after 6 o’clock on Saturday outside of Bows and Arrows in Berkeley when people started pulling up on their bikes. First one, then two, then three—then over a dozen. They were there for T-Mack.
During the early morning of August 14, 22-year-old Terrence McCrary Jr., known as “T-Mack” by his friends and family, was one of two men shot and killed following a birthday party at the now-closed Prime Development Art Gallery in downtown Oakland. According to bystanders, McCrary and Craig Fletcher-Cooks, 20, both Berkeley High School graduates, were caught in the crossfire when two unknown men started shooting after a fight spilled out into the streets. Now, almost two months later, people are still taking the time to remember McCrary and heal from his death.
“It’s been surreal,” said Max Gibson, co-founder of Wine & Bowties, the Oakland art and culture collective responsible for putting together the ride. He was at the party the night McCrary died. “The purpose of the ride is around that community building, around that love and unity that T symbolized when he was alive, and hopefully will continue to symbolize in his passing,” he said.
According to Gibson, McCrary was “always a fixture” at their events and parties. Wine & Bowties routinely hosted art exhibitions, film screenings, parties and bike rides until McCrary’s death. This is their first event since that day. “That night just rocked our community. I think it made everybody kind of stop and think and really consider everything,” said Gibson.
Gracie Feferman-Perez used to stop by Bows and Arrows, where McCrary used work, to talk music. She smiled as she remembered a conversation they shared about hip-hop artist Anderson .Paak when he clued her into .Paak’s former stage name, Breezy Lovejoy.
“This is real—to be really aware that we’re not safe,” said Feferman-Perez. A few of her friends saw the shooting happen, she said, and added that it also “really shook” them. “I’m out here to help represent that we need to talk about it and we need to support each other and come together to help feel safe again,” added Feferman-Perez.
As the group of about two dozen bikers took off down Telegraph Avenue and the sounds of .Paak’s album Venice boomed from the portable speaker she had tucked into her bag, heads turned as the crew glided through the streets.
After about 3.5 miles, the group stopped at Mosswood Park in Oakland for an informal memorial—no candles, no pictures and eventually no music—just the sounds of basketballs bouncing and children playing in the background. Gibson gathered the riders into a circle.
“What happened—it happens everyday, everywhere else—but it happened to happen to one of ours,” said Ben Goldstein, who worked with Gibson to plan the bike route. “You’re here on this ground, whether you’re here to ride bikes, for community, to show your support, it’s all coming back together in a circle and it unites us all.”
“He treated everybody with love and positivity and so with his passing, I’m hoping that we can walk with that sort of mentality and emulate some of his positive attributes as well,” added Gibson. He invited others to share their memories about McCrary but no one stepped forward.
In 2015, there were 1,536 reported crimes involving firearms and weapons, according to the City of Oakland’s End of Year Crime Report. The Oakland Police Department has not yet made any arrests in connection with the shootings.
Just before nightfall, the group left the park to wrap up the ride with music and food at Suru in downtown Oakland, but not before making a loop around Lake Merritt, one of McCrary’s favorite places to hang out and skate at. Their silence said it all: they still felt the pain, yet in their constant movement, they said they felt his presence.
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