Very suddenly she had become like a lifeless stick adrift in a churning tide, with no will of her own. That’s what it sounds like as Rose Holman describes the days after her son Lewis was shot and killed in Oakland in April of 2012. Lewis was a passenger in a car near Mills College in East Oakland. The driver was shot, too, but survived. Lewis died at the scene. It happened at 4:30 p.m.

When she emerged from that tide, things got even worse. “I was in an uncontrollable rage,” says Holman, in a voice today full of kindness and calm.

Even if you lived in Oakland, you wouldn’t have heard much about the killing of Lewis Holman. The 21-year-old carpenter was shot to death during the most murderous year Oakland had seen since the 2006. Lewis was not wealthy or white. He was not a child. He was a young, black man in East Oakland, and so, in some objective ways, the most unspectacular of victims of the city’s long-standing troubles with the gun. Such murders garner little public attention.

There was a handful of news items. One said there were many witnesses to the killing of Lewis, but more than a year later the police have no real leads. No one would talk.

Like most survivors of the killed, his mother was offered little help from the city. Her loving daughters jumped in to try to guide her, but what did they know, really, about what to do when you are thrust into the strange world of homicide and its aftermath? Suddenly, there are police to deal with for perhaps the first time in your life. There are coroners and morticians and preachers and a whole world to notify and everything costs money and you had no idea this was coming. And you have lost not just your son or brother but, for a time, your mind, your heart.

Who would step in to help her?

Read more at Ice City Almanac.

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