10 days after city council defunded police, Oakland police chief describes '12-hours of non-stop chaos' in the city

On July 24, the Oakland City Council voted to slash $17 million from the city’s police budget. The following week, Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong gave a press conference in which he warned very explicitly “That additional $17 million that was reduced from the police department’s budget will have an impact.” He added, “When you hear the statements from those who say nothing will change, that is not true. Yes it will. The impact will be immediate.” The July 4th weekend seems to have proven the chief was right.


Oakland police responded to seven shootings, two deaths and a huge sideshow overnight on the Fourth of July in “12 hours of nonstop chaos,” Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said Monday…

One shooting led to the city’s 67th homicide this year after a 48-year-old man died on the street just after midnight. Another man died of blunt trauma to the head, the cause of which is under investigation. A female victim was in grave condition Monday and not expected to survive.

The level of life-threatening violence was so high that the ambulance system was inundated and “took a considerable amount of time to respond,” the police chief said.

KPIX 5 published this summary of incidents that made up what the chief called 12-hours of chaos:

  • 6:55 p.m. in 5700 block Elizabeth Street — an male adult was shot multiple times in his vehicle
  • 9:37 p.m. in the 5400 block of Roberts Avenue — a 16 year old male juvenile with gunshot wounds to the head; In stable condition. The shooting was related to celebratory gunfire activity.
  • 10 p.m. in the 2200 block of 23rd Avenue — 29 year old male adult received multiple gunshot wounds.
  • 10:51 p.m. in the 4200 block of International Blvd — A male adult 45 years old suffered gunshot wound, critically injured and possibly related to celebratory gunshots.
  • 11:49 p.m. in the 4200 block of International Blvd. — An unresponsive adult male suffering from blunt trauma to the head. The victim has since died of his injuries
  • 12:08 a.m. in 7700 block of Bancroft Ave — A 48-year-old adult male suffered multiple gunshots and died at the scene.
  • 12:40 a.m. — A victim walked into a hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
  • 9:44 a.m. — in the 2400 block of Bancroft Ave. a woman suffers gunshot wounds and is in critical condition.

Some of the injuries were believed to be the result of “celebratory gunfire,” i.e. people firing guns into the air only to have the bullets rain down on unsuspecting people. But that wasn’t all police were dealing with. There was also what they call a “sideshow” with about 300 cars and 200 people watching people do donuts in the street. One of the cars hit someone and sent him to the hospital with critical injuries.

Speaking of the events of this weekend, Chief Armstrong said, “The violence overtook all of our resources and our officers were stretched to their maximum capacity last night.” At one point there were literally no ambulances left to send on emergency calls. Oakland’s fire department received 61 calls on Sunday and also responded to three structure fires Monday morning, two of which are believed to have been started by illegal fireworks. Police had intended to monitor and respond to calls about illegal fireworks but because of the other chaos taking place they just didn’t have resources to deal with it.

I’m sure someone will argue that this isn’t connected to the defunding of police by the city council. After all, that just happened less than two weeks ago. But I think people are overlooking the fact that the anti-police sentiment that motivated those cuts is also motivating a lot of the lawless behavior in the streets. People are behaving like the city of Oakland is the wild west in part because they know police are hamstrung and unable to respond. Expect things to continue to get worse as more officers leave the city.


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