Oakland residents are sick of rising crime in a 'failed progressive utopia' (Update)

About 200 residents gathered in north Oakland last night to express their frustration with city officials about rising crime. Robberies are up 22% compared to last year and recently the area had 100 robberies reported in a single week, fifty of those happened in a single weekend. The crowd who gathered last night quickly got animated.

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Within the first five minutes of a raucous community safety meeting Tuesday night in North Oakland, residents vented frustrations and fear over a recent crime spike — and their perception that city leaders are doing little to address it.

Over the two hours that followed, a crowd of roughly 200 gathered at Oakland Technical High School confronted a panel of city officials, the interaction ranging from volcanic heckling to
stunned silence. A woman stood and delivered a wrenching personal story about being beaten in front of her house. The owner of a pizzeria said his employees had been held up at gunpoint four times in six years. One person called the city a “failed progressive utopia.”

Others described deteriorating street conditions and predicted that businesses would leave — a San Francisco “doom loop” that had migrated across the bridge.

The woman with the personal story was Denise Lillian:

“It’s one of the most terrifying things in my life,” said Denise Lillian, who said she’s an Oakland resident and was attacked last Monday…

“On the corner of 45th and Shafter, they pulled me down on the ground, punching, kicking, dragging me through the street,” said Lillian, who added her neighbors came to help her when she screamed and the attackers left without getting her purse.

District One City Councilmember Dan Kalb had arranged the meeting and he was often the target of complaints from the crowd.

Sue Saito, a 25-year Oakland resident, described how nine kids who caused problems for the neighborhood had lived in an RV outside Kalb’s home for a period of time.

“I don’t think you did know, Dan, because you never opened your f**king blinds,” she said. “How do you lead a city when you don’t look out your window?”…

When Kalb spoke, members of the crowd at times interrupted him with jeers or shouts along the lines of “ineffective” and “all this is useless,” and sometimes by blowing an air horn.

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It wasn’t just angry conservatives in the crowd, even a trans woman who described herself as a far left activist, agreed something needed to be done.

“This isn’t just about entrenched political camps,” said a transgender woman who described how she and her partner had only recently begun looking at NextDoor and the Citizen app after being robbed twice, both in daylight hours, over just two weeks in Oakland…

She acknowledged that violence often comes from a place of hurt but said she also believed that letting people commit crimes repeatedly is its own form of harm.

“It actually does mess you up more to keep attacking people,” she said. “You can’t let kids just go back out there.”

She’s saying that it’s better for the perpetrators to be locked up at a certain point than to allow them to continue to commit crimes, thereby doing harm to themselves. That’s the most progressive, bass-ackward argument for putting people in jail I’ve ever heard but who cares. The point is that a conservative is just progressive who has been mugged. If she gets mugged a couple more times she’ll stop worrying about the offenders and start worrying about herself and everyone else.

In case you’re wondering, Oakland was one of the cities that actually defunded the police by $17 million back in 2021:

The Oakland City Council approved a budget early Thursday evening that will strip $17.4 million in funding from the Oakland Police Department and direct the money toward other programs…

The city council held budget discussions that started at 10:30 a.m. Thursday during a special meeting that included hours of public input. Council members Nikki Fortunato Bas and Carroll Fife spearheaded the push to defund the Oakland Police Department with the amended budget vote.

“We can make adjustments if we need to but, right now, we have to focus on our violence prevention, affordable housing, our homeless populations and that’s what this budget helps us move forward and do,” said councilmember Dan Kalb.

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The mayor and the police association warned at the time that the result of the cuts would be about 50 fewer officers to answer 911 calls and longer wait times. Last night, residents were complaining about trouble getting anyone when you call 911 and the fact that even when you get through on the phone it can take officers a long time to respond. These things are clearly connected. Oakland’s city council (including Dan Kalb) chose this.

Oakland currently has 93 vacant positions for police officers but the city is also facing a $300 million budget deficit. Residents and business owners want more officers on the streets but there’s no money for that right now. On the other hand, failing to improve the situation means some of these businesses will shutter or move. So there really is a bit of the “doom loop” happening here.

Here’s a local news report on the meeting last night.

Finally, here’s a reminder where the city’s leaders were two years ago. There’s a little interview with Dan Kalb at the end of this clip.

Update: Here’s one of the commenters last night. She starts by asking how many people in the crowd have been mugged and it’s about half.

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David Strom 8:00 AM | July 25, 2024
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