Residents of the liberal city of Oakland, California, have had it with the level of crime they have had to endure in their community.
More than 500 residents and business owners showed up this week for a community meeting during which they shared harrowing stories and demanded change.
(Video: Fox News)
“What I see is a lot of people upset and understandably so, because crime has really been rampant in the time I’ve been in the Rockridge neighborhood, which is really a beautiful, wonderful neighborhood,” Henry Wimmer, owner of Open Mind Music, told Fox News’s “America Roports” on Thursday.
Wimmer has had to chase off one person who was casing his car with a flashlight and has, himself, been the victim of smash-and-grab thieves.
The “Community Meeting on Crime and Violence,” held on May 30, was called by District One City Council member Dan Kalb, a Democrat. Kalb was joined on stage by interim Oakland Police Department Captain Jeff Thomason and interim Chief of the Department of Violence Prevention Kentrell Killens.
— Leighton 明 Woodhouse (@lwoodhouse) May 31, 2023
“Earlier this month, the city saw 100 robberies in a week, with 50 taking place over a single weekend, according to Oakland police,” Fox News Digital reports. “The robberies that happened included acts like carjackings, shootings and assaults.”
“Who wants to live like this?!” exclaimed one frustrated attendee to a round of applause.
“I’m Louise, and I’m the owner of Studio Naga, a small martial arts school at 59th and San Pablo,” said another resident who told the panel that she emails “everyone” she can “every week” about her problem.
“I have a person who is mentally deranged [and] is living ten feet from the door of my business who has threatened me multiple times, who has threatened other people, who defecates on our property, on our business,” Louise said. “And I’m being told by MACRO [the Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland] that they can’t do anything. I’m being told by the police that there’s got to be something in the middle.”
“Because as women have said,” she continued, “I don’t want to have to get threatened with sexual violence when I go to work. I don’t want my children to see this as a normal behavior from an individual on the street.”
“He’s been naked,” Louise said. “He’s masturbated in front of them. He’s urinated in front of them. And there’s nothing, I’m told, the police can do.”
“So your policy of not enforcing some of this ‘150 feet from a school, 50 feet from a residence or business — that policy has a direct impact on people’s lives,” she stated.
“Last week, three girls and six boys between 12–17 years of age were arrested for nearly three dozen robberies that terrorized the community,” Fox News Digital reports. “Citywide, robberies have increased 7% from the same period last year, Oakland police statistics revealed. Authorities said they are alarmed to see more juveniles involved in crime.”
— Leighton 明 Woodhouse (@lwoodhouse) May 31, 2023
In Rockridge, Wimmer says smash-and-grab thefts are “fundamentally the major problem.”
“There were pedestrians near my car. It was about closing time and there was daylight,” Wimmer said. “It was like maybe 10 seconds. So I was in the store saying, ‘Monica, we need to get going.’ And in that time there was a pop of the back window. They grabbed our laptop and were gone in a matter of seconds.”
“So the criminal element is quick, it’s nefarious, it’s predatory, and it really takes a lot of eyes on the prize,” he explained. “In essence, the best deterrent is light.”
A member of the city council, Wimmer said the crime problem in Oakland is “multi-tiered.”
Fresh from a budget workshop at City Hall, Wimmer noted that the current version of the budget paves the way for an increase in the number of police officers and six police academies over the next two years. However, there will be a freeze in paid positions and overtime will be cut.
While the budget has yet to be adopted, Wimmer says the reduction in funds for police is concerning.
“The Oakland police force is, per capita, the smallest of a major city, and it has a vast territory to cover,” he said. “So it really is a multi-tiered problem, and it really is problems with education and economic opportunity along with police force issues.”
At the more than two-hour community meeting, Kalb told residents that police and other agencies have been submitting grants to ease the situation.
“It’s going to be hard to do some things,” he said, “but we’re going to try.”
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