Oakland District 1 city councilmember Dan Kalb and other city officials had plenty of shouting directed their way at a Tuesday night meeting about the recent crime spike in the North Oakland area, and Kalb seems to be drawing some political battle lines in response.
Robberies are up an estimated 7% in Oakland compared to this time a year ago, and it’s grabbing headlines not just because crime is up in the nicer neighborhoods, but also due to the brazen circumstances of many of these crimes.
Last week a group of nine juveniles were arrested in connection with 35 robberies, many in the upscale areas of Mosswood, Piedmont, and Rockridge. Much of that is the jurisdiction of Oakland District 1 City Councilmember Dan Kalb, so Kalb held a community meeting on crime Tuesday night, according to the Chronicle, and hundreds of angry residents gave him an earful.
Community Meeting on Crime and Violence— Sam Davis (@samdavis510) May 25, 2023
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Oakland Technical HS Auditorium
OUSD District 1 Director Sam Davis
Oakland Dept. of Violence Prevention
Oakland Police Dept. pic.twitter.com/Wy3vWlFg5u
KTVU estimates the crowd size at “more than 500,” though the Chronicle estimates the crowd size as “roughly 200,” and Oaklandside pegs it as “200 people.” It’s unclear from the full Facebook Live video of the event (embedded below) how many people attended, as the camera in that video never pans out to the crowd.
It takes less than two minutes into the meeting until the first person yells “BOOO!,” which is followed by a smattering of heckling.
“You know we’ve seen an unusual increase in crime,” Kalb says at the meeting’s outset, to which someone in the crowd screams back at him in response, “No shit!”
Kalb continued calmly, “That’s caused, very understandably, a heightened level of fear and concern and frustration and anger.”
According to KTVU, Arthur Mac's Tap and Snacks co-owner Adam Stemmler said at the meeting, "My staff has been held at gunpoint 4 times in 6 years. The last time my staff was held at gunpoint... an Oakland native military veteran, black male from Oakland almost got shot and killed."
This Rockridge resident said he feels that Oakland is becoming a “shithole” and that he’s been to “Nigeria, Ghana, and Southeast Asia,” an Oakland is “worse.” He then accuses DA Pam Price is “coddling” criminals. pic.twitter.com/N2zRYyTzeV— Darwin BondGraham (@DarwinBondGraha) May 31, 2023
Some of the comments were a little more colorful. “Look at Morocco, you want to steal in Morocco, your hand is gone,” said attendee Bruce Wank, who said he’d recently been robbed at gunpoint. “The measures here are inadequate. Why is Singapore a great place? Well, look at enforcement.” (We found no proof that Moroco cuts off people’s hands for theft, but it has happened in Iran.)
Seneca Scott, a west Oakland activist who ran for mayor last year, disrupts Kalb’s forum.” There’s other heckling from the audience booing Kalb and asking what he’s doing. pic.twitter.com/7sgbzrblR4— Darwin BondGraham (@DarwinBondGraha) May 31, 2023
And curiously, we also have former Oakland mayoral candidate Seneca Scott in attendance, stirring the pot about crime, though Scott himself has a history of gun arrest charges. Scott brought his own microphone, and attempted to disrupt the meeting several times. But he did not have the crowd on his side, and they shouted him down enough that the extra microphone was ultimately of little use.
And Kalb revealed some of his messaging in the hot-button crime issue. "If they are committing these violent crimes repeatedly, then we can't just say please don't do this again. We have to catch them and have consequences," he said, according to KTVU. "I will send another email letter to the district attorney talking about this very thing."
Notice that he said the words “district attorney,” a reference to the already somewhat embattled new Alameda County DA Pamela Price, whom critics tar as being soft on crime. Kalb also went to bat for more police overtime funding in the upcoming budget.
“Even though the budget per se is going up slightly for OPD, there’s a real impact in the overall proposal” that Kalb described as “reduced funding for police overtime.”
In other words, much like what's happening across the Bay in SF, there seems to be a political budget battle brewing over how much money the Oakland Police Department will get in the upcoming budget, and we’ll see whether outrage over crime rates drives more funding to the OPD despite the biggest budget deficit in Oakland history.
Screenshot via Facebook