Diallo Neal knew the streets of Oakland well. He'd been racing around town on his black bicycle since grade school. He loved that bike. It was one of his few possessions. He didn't have much growing up, but he did have family, a tight-knit unit of three generations, as many as seven people living in a narrow duplex on Peralta Street. His grandparents bought the house after leaving Mississippi in the 1940s in search of better opportunities out west. They succeeded, but life was still a struggle. Gilda, his mother, held down a solid city job, but as the sole breadwinner, she was stretched thin.

So Diallo, the oldest of his generation, looked after his younger brother and cousins. He took them to movies, he got them school supplies, he drove them to class. He bought his cousin Nareisha Williams her first homecoming dress. When Langston had family problems and needed a place to stay, Diallo offered up his bedroom. He took care of his people.

Charles Rollins learned this the first day his daughter brought Diallo home. Star was 16 years old and newly pregnant. The couple had met just two months before. Diallo had expected her parents would be worried, so he'd asked to meet with them. "No matter what happens with Star and me," he told them that first day, "I will take care of my child." Sufficiently impressed, Charles set them up in an apartment in East Oakland.

“His death changed everything,” says Diallo Neal’s mother, Gilda Baker. “Diallo was the glue.”
Anna Latino
“His death changed everything,” says Diallo Neal’s mother, Gilda Baker. “Diallo was the glue.”
Diallo Jr. now takes care of the candy-purple ‘68 Ford Falcon his dad fixed up years ago.
Anna Latino
Diallo Jr. now takes care of the candy-purple ‘68 Ford Falcon his dad fixed up years ago.

"A father could not pray to have a man take care of his daughter the way Diallo did," he says.

Charles Rollins planned to pay half their rent and utility bills for the foreseeable future. But within six months, Star told him they didn't need his help. Diallo hustled his way to financial stability. "Man, I gotta make sure my kids don't have to go through what I had to go through," he told his friend DeMorea Evans. He sold bootleg DVDs. He painted houses. He bought beat-up cars, fixed them up, and re-sold them. He trekked down to Los Angeles' garment district three or four times a month to buy clothes wholesale, then hawked the goods at Oakland flea markets.

He also sold drugs. It was the early '90s, and America's crack era was booming. But he was conscious of those who looked up to him. "He locked away that other part of his life from his family," says Nareisha. "He never let anyone see that reality." No one who knew Diallo had ever even seen him drink or smoke.

By his mid-twenties, he was known around the neighborhoods, the clean-cut dude with a fresh pair of Air Jordans and a slick ride. His cars were his trademark. After fixing up his latest project — a classic Mustang or a supercharged Oldsmobile — he'd test it out for a few weeks before selling it off and working on a new one.

Around Christmas, he'd stop by the park and hand out toys to the neighborhood kids — remote-controlled cars, jump ropes, basketballs. Some of them called him Santa. The adults, though, nicknamed him "The Great Debater." On Friday afternoons, Diallo could be found at DeMorea's barbershop, ready to lecture on how Kobe Bryant is a "fake Jordan," or on how adults need to do more to stop youth violence, or on China's potential as a superpower, or on colonialism's impact on Africa.

His favorite lecture topic, everybody remembers, was on the importance of taking the path to college and avoiding the path to the streets. Diallo knew his lifestyle had a price. When he was 19, he spent 80 days in county jail for possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. At 23, he did six months for the same crime, and then got slapped with three years probation a year later. With three felonies on his record before he turned 25, he had trouble transitioning into a legitimate career. He applied for jobs every week, at places like PG&E, Coca-Cola, and a bunch of warehouses. He didn't get called back for a single interview.

The breaking point came in 1999, when Diallo caught his fourth narcotics conviction. This time, he was sentenced to two years in state prison. Star had always pushed him to leave the drug game, but this time she raised the stakes. She wasn't going to let him put the family through this again. She'd leave him if he didn't straighten up. "I can't do this no more," he agreed. "I can't put y'all through this." The worst part of that stretch behind bars, he told her, was the helplessness he felt at not being able to take care of his family.

After he got out of prison that final time, he got a gig driving trucks, delivering furniture around California. By 2004, he'd saved up enough to open his own auto shop, Golden State Motors. As Diallo's 34th birthday neared, things were on the up-and-up.


Charles Brown and Emma Washington were standing outside their apartment complex at 2943 MacArthur Boulevard when they heard motorcycles roaring. The one in front was a black Harley and the driver was a black guy. And as far as Brown could tell, the one behind was a highway patrol officer, a white guy in a black and white helmet. Washington agreed with that assessment — it looked like the rider wore tan pants and a black leather jacket. The motorcycles were racing way above the 30 mph speed limit as they passed the complex and whipped around a bend about 100 yards away.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
5 comments
gl5bak12
gl5bak12

JUSTICE FOR DIALLO SEKOU NEAL SR.

gm0622
gm0622

Troubling story. My thoughts and prayers to the family and friends.


gl5bak12
gl5bak12

Justice For Diallo Sekou Neal Sr.

There are answeres to many of the question needing to be answered.  Why arent the authorities asking these questions?  By failing to conduct an investigation ....every day they are breaking the law.   

gl5bak12
gl5bak12

The questions are answerable.  One in particular is, why did the authorities attempt to close an investgation they clearly knew had 2 motorcyles involved?  They covered up evidence for someone....for some reason.  They know the answer to why they did this.  OPD knows the answer to why when their procedure is to conduct investigations that happen on city streets, their own report says "CHP tok control of the investigation of Neal's death". OPD admits to violating it's own procedures.  If evidence has been distroyed, it should never have happened in a fatality,  Investigation beyond on the scene is a mandate invehicle fatal accidents.

gl5bak12
gl5bak12

The questions are answerable.  One in particular is, why did the authorities attempt to close an investgation they clearly knew had 2 motorcyles involved?  They covered up evidence for someone....for some reason.  They know the answer to why they did this.  OPD knows the answer to why when their procedure is to conduct investigations that happen on city streets, their own report says "CHP tok control of the investigation of Neal's death". OPD admits to violating it's own procedures.  If evidence has been distroyed, it should never have happened in a fatality,  Investigation beyond on the scene is a mandate invehicle fatal accidents.

 
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...