What's the idea behind Counted: An Oakland Story?

Snap Judgment producers wanted to get a sense of who Oakland’s homicide victims are, and what their deaths mean to their families and the communities around them. So we documented each homicide in the city in 2017. Our reporting focused on a handful of victims. We collected dozens of interviews with victims' friends and families as they coped with personal tragedy, while also looking for answers.

Why do we care?

In 2016, following the death of Philando Castile, we sat down as a staff and brainstormed how we might produce a story inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. We wanted to make a piece in our signature style using personal stories, rather than news reports, that focused on our hometown of Oakland, CA. In Oakland, the majority of homicide victims are black and their stories are largely unknown. 

Why Oakland?

Our show is produced in Oakland and we know that Oakland is a very special place. But one thing that is hard to get past is the city’s murder rate. In 2006, Oakland’s murder rate reached 145. The number has decreased since then and hovered around 80 in more recent years. Oakland maintains its notoriety as one of the most dangerous cities in the country. The victims remain no less relevant, and the context of violence no less worthy of exploring, especially  in this time of rapid gentrification and development in the city.  

Where in Oakland did the homicides occur?

Click on this map of Oakland to see where people were killed in 2017.

You said you interviewed dozens of people, but I only heard a few of them on the podcast episode. Where can I hear the other interviews?

We’ve included extra audio and photographs here on our website. Please click on the portraits in color on our memorial page,  as well as on the responder page, to hear stories from voices not featured on the podcast. You can also follow us on Instagram for visual stories. 

The story is called Counted. What counts as a homicide?

We documented lives lost to violence. There are many ways to define murder. The 2017 final number of homicides, 77, was derived from the Oakland Police Department's homicide statistics. 

What is Snap Judgment?

Snap Judgment is an Oakland-based weekly storytelling radio show and podcast distributed by WNYC Studios, and hosted by Glynn Washington.

How long did Snap Judgment producers work on this story?

Snap Judgment producers worked on this story for 15 months.

Where can I see more pictures?

Visit our Instagram or head to the Gallery page

How can I help?

Visit our Take Action page for a list of local organizations and links to their pages.

I have a friend or family member who was killed in Oakland in 2017 and would like to contribute content to your project. How do I get in touch?

Thank you so much for your interest - we could not do this without your help. Please fill out the form on the Contact page.

I have a story I think would be great on your show. Who can I talk to?

Check out our storytelling guidelines here