Oakland leaders ask state for assistance in dealing with gun violence
Community leaders in Oakland are asking for help from the California Highway Patrol and elected officials following a wave of deadly shootings.
This year, 78 people have been shot and killed compared to 54 at the same time last year, according to the Oakland Police Department.
Other gun crimes, including robbery and shootings, are also on the rise and eclipse the numbers of the last three years.
Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce President Carl Chan has called for increased police presence, asking Governor Gavin Newsom at a recent press conference to “declare a state of emergency” and send support from state law enforcement. Chan asked for help from the CHP to “keep the peace, protect the public, and save our lives.”
Chan referenced an incident where two men were injured after intervening in an attempted robbery of two women. One person was beaten up with a pistol and the other was shot.
The incident is one of many to occur in Chinatown this year, where several elderly residents have also been assaulted.
District 6 Council member Lauren Taylor joined Chan at the press conference, and called for greater support for the community “in their call for greater protection and greater response to their needs.” Taylor called the long response times from police “unacceptable.”
Earlier this summer, Alameda County asked the state to declare the rise in gun violence a “public health crisis.” Black-owned businesses and community programs have also floated the idea of allocating resources from the Epidemic Recovery Fund to go toward preventing gun crime. So far, the Board of Supervisors has acknowledged the idea but has not acted on it.
Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong responded to the situation by implementing a centralized command for a “violence operations center” that runs across the city and can dispatch teams for violent crimes as needed. Armstrong blames the pandemic for the rise in crime and elected officials for not supporting the department financially.
“Our council members have not responded to the community’s call for more support,” he said, noting that the department is still understaffed by 33 vacancies.
However, the East Bay Times reported that the city council approved an increase in police spending for the 2021–23 budget, raising $38 million of additional funds.