Oakland businesses forced to shut down as employees and customers are robbed at gunpoint

"Oakland has become a warzone."

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
Restaurant owners in Oakland, California are fed-up with out-of-control crime and say that they are losing thousands of dollars each week as a result. Between employees being robbed at gunpoint to customers getting robbed while entering and exiting eateries, business owners are comparing the city to the Vietnam War and are packing up for good.

Two iconic Oakland restaurants, Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse and French-Vietnamese eatery Le Cheval, both shuttered their doors in recent weeks after decades in the city, according to Daily Mail.

Eli Nascimento, the owner of Galeto's, cited the rise in violent crime as to why he decided to close the restaurant. The final straw for Nascimento was his host getting robbed at gunpoint outside his restaurant with three pistols pointed at his head, the outlet reports.

Derreck Johnson, the owner of Home of Chicken and Waffles, said it's become a common occurrence for his customers to fall victim to strong-armed robberies while entering or leaving his restaurant. 

"Every day we struggle with not wanting to lay off our employees," Johnson told the outlet. "I had a group from Miami get robbed at gunpoint on a Saturday afternoon, all their jewelry taken. That should not be my priority. That should not be my job, to make sure that my customers are safe while they're walking the streets in Oakland."

In addition, Johnson said his customers are being robbed at gunpoint upon entering and exiting his diner. Patrons also tell him stories of how they have either just been robbed while walking the city or have had all their luggage stolen out of their vehicles.

"It's just really affecting our business," Johnson told Fox News. "Our sales are very low, I talk to neighboring businesses…It's time to come together and figure out a solution so that it stops affecting our business because people just don't feel safe coming downtown or to the Jack London area."

"There's not a day goes by that I don't see someone stealing something out of someone's car in Jack London. What makes me feel handcuffed is that I can't do anything about it. If I go to say something, I might get shot ... Is that how we want to live? I don't want to live like that," Johnson asserted.

"Small businesses are the heartbeat of Oakland, small businesses are the largest employer in Oakland, and it's very important that the city, the state, the county, everyone recognizes how important small business is," he added.

"I've had to subsidize the last two payrolls because sales have been so slow. People just don't feel comfortable. It doesn't appear like an area where that kind of crime would be taking place in broad daylight."

Oakland has seen a 43 percent increase in strong-armed robberies within the last year. So far in 2023, there have been 1,282 documented incidents. In addition, vehicle thefts have increased by 50 percent while home invasions have increased by 65 percent. The city's violent crime has reached its highest numbers since the crimewave of the 90s, according to data, Daily Mail reports.

Bruce Vuong, a Vietnamese national who owns an auto body shop in the city, compared Oakland to wartime Vietnam.

"Oakland has become a warzone," Vuong told ABC News. "It feels like a battleground to go to work."

Business owners are demanding for the city to take action to address the crime increase and the NAACP's Oakland branch have called on officials to declare a state of emergency, according to Daily Mail.

There is also an effort put forth by Oakland residents to recall Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price over her soft-on-crime policies, which they say have gravely impacted the community in a negative way.

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