Oakland residents voiced their frustrations over rising crime due to a lack of policing in the city at a community safety meeting Tuesday evening.
The meeting, hosted by City Council Member Dan Kalb, included representatives from the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention. Hundreds of Oakland residents attended the meeting to show their frustration with the lack of effort from the city to lower rising crime rates.
Several residents spoke out about how the violence has impacted their everyday lives. As one woman recounted her experiences, she asked the audience how many of them had been “assaulted, held up, or beat up.” Dozens of people around the room raised their hands. Some of the speakers also emphasized the rising number of violent attacks against women.
“It’s all women,” one resident said as she recounted her own assault. “Two kids beating the shit out of me in front of my house last Monday night. Down on the pavement. Punching me, kicking me, dragging me through the street.”
Violent crime has been on the rise this year, increasing 7 percent compared to last year with robberies up 12 percent, according to Oakland police data. Some residents attending the town hall placed the blame directly on recent policies that establish limits on policing.
“When you signal to the community that the police are the problem, what do you expect?” one man asked. “All the people in this room, we are the victims of a failed progressive utopia. Your policies have failed.”
One of the specific complaints addressed the police department’s policy that prevents police officers from pursuing and ticketing low-level traffic offenders—even if drivers are wearing ski masks and driving cars without license plates.
“That’s why all this stuff is happening, because you didn’t start by citing people for these low-level crimes–and don’t tell me it’s profiling because you can’t even see who’s in the car,” Lisa McNally, a public school teacher, said.
Several of the stories of violence from community members involved either youth or mentally ill people on the streets. According to Oakland Interim Police Chief Darren Allison, the surge in violence across the city includes an uptick in juvenile offenders. Police recently arrested eight members of a robbery crew - ages 12 to 17 - linked to a string of more than 35 thefts in Oakland were recently arrested. All were released without being charged.
“If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. But if there is not time, go ahead and do the crime, right?” resident Michael Melland said.
One local business owner, Louise Rafkin, said a mentally ill man is living 10 feet from her business and regularly displays unhinged behavior toward herself, her customers and her children. She claimed she has tried to get the situation resolved several times through multiple agencies, not to no avail.
“He’s been naked. He’s masturbated in front of them. He’s urinated in front of them. And there’s nothing I’m told that the police can do,” Rafkin said.
Kalb promised that he would start pressing for increased accountability for repeat offenders.
“If they are committing these violent crimes repeatedly, then we can’t just say please don’t do this again. We have to catch them and have consequences,” Kalb said.
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A mob of California teenagers assaulted three US Marines after being asked to stop setting off fireworks in the streets. How far has society fallen that we tolerate this behavior from our youth?— MRCTV (@mrctv) June 1, 2023