Cesar Chavez Park at Night

By Sergio Martinez

9:24 pm, Wednesday, July 2.

ov martinez neighborhood reflectionCesar Chavez Park (located on Foothill Blvd. between Bridge Ave and 38th Avenues.) Slightly cold with a slight breeze. I sat near the end farthest from Foothill, closer to the small walking bridge that connects to 37th Avenue. I noticed broken glass, graffiti on the walking bridge and lots of garbage near the small creek beneath the bridge. For the 15 minutes that I observed, I did not see anyone walk through the park.

A couple was kissing and hugging on the other end of the park. They seemed happy and not as concerned as I was about being in the park at night. In addition, I saw plenty of cars drive up and down Foothill. I heard the trees sway in the wind above me and behind me. Lighting was poor near the 37th Avenue side of the walking bridge and around the creek area. It seemed spooky. There was plenty of light on the other side of the bridge and some lights in the park. I felt like everyone could see me. It felt as if I was under the proverbial “spot light”.

The park is between two concentrated neighborhoods. An apartment building faces the walkway that leads to 38th Avenue and I heard lots of laughter, profanity and yelling. Given the pitch of the voices, I imagine they were young males. I heard banging–like someone hitting a metal fence with a stick. I also heard fireworks, gunshots or both. It was hard to distinguish. I did not feel safe.

I know that people use the park for more than just exercise, making-out or fun. In the past, people running away from the police have run into the creek, I better understood why as I stood over the bridge looking into the dark creek area. At the end there is a tunnel. Plenty of brush and trees provide areas to hide.

There was too much noise pollution for a Wednesday night.






Author Profile

Sergio Martinez was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in the Fruitvale neighborhood. He is a Public Health Practitioner by training, a part-time lecturer at San Francisco State and an advocate of social justice. He enjoys collecting vinyl records, travelling and roaming museums and art galleries.

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