Oakland residents pack city council meeting demanding action amid massive spike in violent crime

"All the people in this room, we are the victims of a failed progressive utopia. Your policies have failed."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Tuesday, hundreds of Oakland, California residents congregated in the auditorium of a local high school to voice their frustration over the city's crime problem. Dozens lined up to stand behind the microphone and tell their personal stories to North Oakland Councilman Dan Kalb, OPD Capt. Jeffrey Thomason, and Department of Violence interim chief Kentrell Killens, who sat on stage and listened to each one, even as they themselves became the focus of the ire.

Violent crime in Oakland has risen dramatically over the past year, as have robberies. There have been numerous high-profile attacks involving prominent members of the community, leaving many feeling unsafe in their own neighborhoods.

To illustrate the scope of the problem, when one woman got to the mic, she turned to the audience and asked them to raise their hands if they'd ever been assaulted, held up, or beaten. Dozens of arms shot up, followed by a chorus of "wow" as people looked around.

"Oakland is out of control with the crime," she continued. "I'm absolutely fed up; we're all fed up!" She accused the men on stage of allowing the problem to persist via policies that "coddle" criminals. "Vote them out!" she yelled before yielding the mic to the next speaker.

Another concerned citizen and small business owner noted that she has been dealing with a "mentally deranged" person living ten feet from the front door "who has threatened me multiple times, who has threatened other people, who defecate on our property."

She slammed local officials and the police department for failing to do anything about the situation, and said more needed to be done not just for her benefit, but for her children's, and the communities.

Countless others shared their experiences, including another small business owner who explained that his staff had been held at gunpoint four times in six years.

Following the meeting, Kalb vowed to contact the district attorney asking them to do more to deter criminals, saying it was time authorities start catching them and ensuring they face consequences.

According to the Berkeley Scanner, Oakland police data has revealed that violent crime in the city has increased by 7 percent this year, and robberies are up 12 percent compared to the same period last year.

OPD announced last week that the city experienced 100 robberies over a single week in May.

In North Oakland alone, residents have had to deal with a 22 percent increase in robberies over last year.

Around 200 people attended the meeting in person, with an additional 100 people watching online.

Kalb specifically was called out by residents, with one Oakland resident stating that nine minors who have caused problems for the neighborhood lived outside of Kalb’s home in an RV for a period of time. 

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

Some said that Kalb wasn’t taking a strong enough stance on supporting the Oakland police.

"When you signal to the community that the police are the problem, what do you expect?" one man asked Kalb. "All the people in this room, we are the victims of a failed progressive utopia. Your policies have failed."

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