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Not ‘Senseless’ At All
The fatal trajectory of Oakland cop-killer Lovelle Mixon.


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“He’s nice, he’s kind, he’s sweet . . .”

So said Enjoli Mixon of her brother Lovelle, the killer of four Oakland police officers. “We’re all shocked by this,” she told reporters.

She shouldn’t be. Nor should anyone who knew Lovelle Mixon be at all surprised that he met his violent end on March 21. As is often the case in such violent crimes, many have called the murders “senseless.” They were actually anything but senseless. Indeed, but for the scale of the carnage Mixon inflicted before he died, it was an utterly predictable culmination to an utterly misspent life.

That afternoon, just after one o’clock, Mixon was driving down MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland when he was stopped by two Oakland Police Department motorcycle officers, Sergeant Mark Dunakin and Officer John Hege. As the officers inspected his driver’s license, Mixon sprang from the car with a semiautomatic pistol and shot both of them. Then, as the officers lay wounded and helpless on the pavement, Mixon walked up, stood over them, and shot them again. Both officers died from their wounds. Neither of them so much as drew his own weapon.

“He’s nice, he’s kind, he’s sweet . . .”

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After shooting Dunakin and Hege, Mixon ran around the corner and hid in his sister’s apartment. About two hours later, after receiving a tip from a citizen, an Oakland P.D. SWAT team stormed the apartment and exchanged gunfire with Mixon, who by then had armed himself with a military-style assault rifle. When the battle was over, Sergeants Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai had been mortally wounded, as had Mixon himself. A fifth officer, Sergeant Pat Gonzalez, was wounded but escaped death when a bullet ricocheted off his helmet.

“He’s nice, he’s kind, he’s sweet . . .”

In the days after the shootings we learned a great deal about Lovelle Mixon. He dropped out of school in the ninth grade and was arrested several times as a juvenile, then began racking up felonies at age 18, starting with drug possession. In 2002 he was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in an attempted carjacking in San Francisco. The victim, a truck driver, was shot at and pistol-whipped, sustaining a head wound that required 16 stitches to close. In a pre-sentencing report, a probation officer described Mixon as a “cold-hearted individual who does not have any regard for human life.” State prison, she said, was the only way “to rein in this man’s proclivity for violence.”

Finally, we were informed that Mixon had been linked through DNA to a rape in which the victim was dragged off an East Oakland street at gunpoint. She was twelve years old.

“He’s nice, he’s kind, he’s sweet . . .”

Police officers are quite accustomed to hearing even the most reprehensible behavior rationalized by criminals and excused by their friends and families, but Mixon’s deadly crime spree has inspired an almost farcical orgy of such rationalizations and excuses. Family members blamed Mixon’s parole officer for not finding him a job and for missing a scheduled appointment. Corrections officials describe these claims as absurd, saying Mixon had missed three scheduled visits from his parole officer before a warrant was issued for his arrest.

One can almost forgive Mixon’s family for their delusions, but the same cannot be said of the twisted souls who have hailed him as a hero. Even as most of Oakland and the greater Bay Area turned out in support of the police, people associated with something called the Uhuru Movement have described Mixon as a freedom fighter. “Knowing the history of how the police treat Africans,” says the Uhuru Movement’s website, “Lovelle Mixon felt he had to defend himself in the face of the oppressive police state. And he did so, honorably.”

Last week, Uhuru members organized a march through the East Oakland neighborhood where the shootings occurred, and the 50 or so participants gathered in front of the apartment where the bloodshed ended to extol the bravery and manifold other virtues of their “brother Lovelle.” That they were able to do so unmolested by their fellow citizens is a measure of how morally diseased the neighborhood is.



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