On Tuesday night, the Oakland Police Department presented a meager report on the controversial gang injunction in North Oakland during the City Council’s Public Safety Committee meeting. The OPD’s presentation lasted only a few minutes showing a marked increase in violence in the “safety zone” and negative impacts in surrounding areas since the injunction has been in place.
Of the dozen community members who spoke on the item, many noted that, ironically, the OPD’s own information supported gang injunction opponents’ criticism of the police strategy. Even supporters of injunctions found flaws in the formulation of the data. Council Member Nancy Nadel blasted OPD’s report and said of the injunction, “Now that we know this doesn’t work, let’s try some things that might work.”
The Council finally seems to be getting the message that gang injunctions are a dead end approach for Oakland. They couldn’t dispute that the OPD’s own data shows an increase in the very activities that the gang injunctions were imposed to address.
- $133 thousand dollars spent on injunction-specific policing do not leave any of us who live in the zone with a reality of less violent crime. As much as OPD is crying out here that they are too underresourced to even use it effectively to decrease crime, we must be clear that this tool as it has been used is not keeping us any safer: crime rates in the zone accelerated at a rate DOUBLE that of the rest of Oakland (table 3, page 5 of report). Part 1 crimes (murders, shootings, aggravated assaults and robberies) in the “safety zone” covered by the gang injunction increased following the injunction’s approval in mid-2010 to October 6, 2011.
- This is an expensive waste of Oaklander’s money.
- During the same period after mid-2010, arrests in the “safety zone” fell by 64 percent, from 315 from April 2009 to June 2010 to 112 arrests from June 2010 to October 2011. In the report, OPD says the loss of 80 officers in mid-2010 and ongoing staffing issues are most plausible explanation for this drop.
- STIC asks, If we do not have the police staff to enforce this tool, if there are still violent crimes persisting despite it being in place, why are we continuing down this ineffective road? Also, what are our measures of safety: arrests or actions that compromise community safety? We need to be addressing behavior, not pointing to staffing problems as the reason the OPD cannot handle these actions AFTER THE FACT.
- Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan says, “The fact that the community feels the quality of life has risen in the safety zone leads staff to believe that this is a strategy worth continuing to pursue.”
This is absurd! Why intentionally continue deceiving residents that this is a plan that will increase their quality of life? We urged City Council to be leaders and make informed decisions! It is time to let data inform good discussion and good decisions for Oakland. Not to mention, STIC allies and friends, hundreds of us have spoken to City Council over the last year, telling them time and time again that our quality of life is NOT increasing under these injunctions as we see social services, education and employment training disintegrate from Oakland’s already-strained budget!
Allies and organizers! We have been coming out strong and we are so close to the end. We continue the struggle to fully support our communities and not allow the government to criminalize them. Now mediation, restorative justice, and community based solutions finally stand a fighting chance. We look forward to standing strong together as we move Our Oakland towards investing in Our Solutions!!
Watch the VIDEO (choose Agenda Item 10 from the drop-down menu)