Oakland, CA– In response to overwhelming, coordinated community opposition, a trio of controversial policing strategies was prevented from moving forward through Oakland City Council Tuesday evening. Hundreds of community members filled the council chambers and spoke out against the implementation of a loitering ordinance, a day-and-night youth curfew, as well as an expansion of gang injunctions into East and West Oakland. With Mayor Jean Quan’s vote breaking a 4-4 tie, the City Council voted to move all three items to its public safety committee for research, analysis and assessment.
Unable to garner public support for gang injunctions through standard channels, Council Members Larry Reid and Ignacio De La Fuente re-packaged the injunctions by bundling them with the youth curfew and loitering ordinances and then subverted Council policy by forcing them through the rules committee and to the full Council rather than through a preliminary hearing in the Public Safety Committee. “De La Fuente, Reid, and others thought that they would just bulldoze these policies through the council, but once again the community turned out in force to remind the council that repressive police policies do not work, are destructive, and are totally out of sync with what Oakland residents really want when it come to public safety,” says Sagnicthe Salazar of the Stop the Injunctions Coalition.
Amidst swirling statistics and strong statements, the Council was eventually compelled to follow its own procedures and put the policy bundle through the Public Safety Committee for information gathering and assessment. Persistent calls for comprehensive, long-term public safety measures were echoed repeatedly as were strategies to engage and employ Oakland youth. According to OPD stats released at tonight’s meeting, youth crime only accounted for 10% of crime in Oakland last year, down from 12% the previous year. These drops occurred during a period without curfews or loitering ordinances, indicating other solutions may be as effective as increased policing.
With the issue tabled until the Public Safety Committee meets later this month, opponents vow to keep the pressure on the City Council and continue to advocate against the expansion of gang injunctions and the introduction of loitering and curfew ordinances. “The community sent a clear message tonight, Oakland cannot police its way out of poverty,” said Kamau Walton of the Stop the Injunctions Coalition, “and we are even more resolved to stop the loitering ordinance, to stop the curfews, and to finally end gang injunctions so that we can actually get down to the business of making our city a safer and more healthy place to live.”