Is this really where Huey P. Newton was murdered almost 30 years ago? It’s hard to find the exact address where he died—1456 Center Street—because the house numbers jump from 1424 to 1506, and there is an open and what looks like forgotten lot where construction is supposed to happen. The corner between 15th Street and Center Street is gated, with green plastic fabric hiding the mess inside. But there is a gate opening through which you can see trash and construction materials, as well as a machine, lying steady under the sun.
At 11 a.m. on a Monday, there is not much going on this area, just the sound of a chainsaw and that of plywood panels being stacked, as there is also a construction project going on across the street from 1456 Center Street.
“Exactly. Exactly. You know,” says a man, who maybe sounds a little white and sophisticated, behind the wall hiding the mysterious construction project. The beat of a hammer can be heard from somewhere nearby. One wonders if the construction part of the process of gentrification happening throughout Oakland.
The street is currently decorated with a variety of trash. On the sidewalk are abandoned office chairs, trash bins, boxes with office materials, and boxes with even more trash. A 7-Eleven Slurpee cup, empty Sriracha packages and instant noodle cups line the corner of the sidewalk and the street. They match well with all the oil stains that the Texas-sized pickup trucks from the people working on the construction area have left behind.
Birds chipping can be heard from the house with a bougainvillea tree on 15th Street. That is also the direction from which several young men wearing colorful beanies come and go, with hip hop music blasting from the speakers of their phones. On Center Street, bikes pass by, and the only thing you can hear is the chains going round and round, as the tires make tiny rocks on the pavement skitter from left to right. The leaves on the trees with white and pink flowers make the cool breeze sound louder. In fact, the silence is so loud now that it is very similar to one of those moments when you wonder if the lack of noise means a child is hiding an expensive vase, now broken.