Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a writer and photographer who has worked in Africa, the Middle East, and at home in the Bay Area. His work has been published in Afar, California, and on

Recent Articles

On the Block

A pilot program in Oakland, California, combines community policing with social services and gets at-risk young men off the street.

It's been raining and the San Francisco Giants are on TV, so the streets are quiet. We're cruising through East Oakland, one of the most violent parts of a violent city. A knot of drug dealers loiters in front of a housing project, and crackheads sit in folding chairs on the sidewalk. Two teenagers in hoodies saunter by; another weaves back and forth on a small bike. Anthony DelToro gestures toward them: "When you see youngsters like that, all in black, the majority of the damn time they got guns." He pauses. "This is Oakland -- everybody got a gun." DelToro, a 24-year-old East Oaklander who wears an extra-large white T-shirt and a Giants baseball hat, knows of what he speaks. He grew up in a Norteno gang neighborhood, sold coke, heroin, and weed and served stints totaling two-and-a-half years in county jails. He now leads a Street Outreach team of locals in their 20s to 40s -- some are ex-gang members and drug dealers, some have lost loved ones to violence. The common denominator is...