In a statement Tuesday, Oakland Police Department Chief Anthony Batts resigned citing “limited control” of OPD and a “changing landscape.” Batts, who came to Oakland in 2009 offering a plan including more cops on the streets and promoting suppression policing tactics, struggled to address questions from City Council members on a proposed anti-loitering ordinance, a day-and-night youth curfew, and an expansion of civil gang injunctions into West and East Oakland, during last week’s Council meeting. Batts responded to inquiries by admitting that there was no OPD training or implementation plan for the ordinances hastily proposed by Council Members Larry Reid and Ingnacio De La Fuente. Meanwhile organizations throughout the city have redoubled calls for expanded programs and services for youth, an end to education cuts, and job creation as real and sustainable solutions for addressing violence in Oakland.
We see Batts’ resignation, along with the resignation of former City Attorney John Russo as an opportunity to address public safety in a way that doesn’t rely on costly, ineffective, and destructive gang injunctions. Feeling the weight of the community pressure Batts states in a resignation memo to OPD, “…Never forget the only reason we exist is to serve the community and residents of Oakland in the way that they wish for us to serve them. This may necessitate change on our part, to look forward and not to the past. Change is constant, and the best organizations continue to adapt and change.”
Batts and former City Attorney John Russo, who resigned in May, were strong advocates of gang injunctions, even as the public and City Government has cooled on the strategy. Pro-injunction stalwarts, De La Fuente and Reid failed to push forward an expansion of injunctions, bundled with the anti-loitering and curfew ordinances, at last week’s City Council meeting. Batts seems to be following Russo in taking to heart the old saying, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ We’re looking forward to putting an end to the costly, inefficient injunctions once and for all.
With the ordinances up for discussion at the next public safety committee meeting (Tuesday, October 25), Stop the Injunctions Coalition and other injunction opponents hope their fading support will send a message to the City that Oakland will not support this aggressive policing approach. We hope to see you and your organizational allies down at City Hall with us!