City cuts social services and community jobs, while policing funds remained untouched and police actions unaccountable

How are recent Oakland financial news and city spending trade-offs connected to policing and injunctions?  When the City talks about solutions, it repeatedly puts the money behind policing, gang injunctions and other ineffective policies, while only paying lip service to real social spending and community-based services.

This month our City is making some major financial decisions that hard-hit Oakland residents, employees and communities.  Last week the mayor’s office announced that anywhere from 160 to 400 workers would be laid-off January 31st and that more than 2,500 have received pink slips. The extraordinary financial burden that OPD demands from the city, however, remained untouched: the City is still funding gang injunctions in North and East Oakland and is launching the 100-block public safety plan, ostensibly designed to target areas in the city with the highest rates of violent crime.

According to Police Chief Howard Jordan, the 100-block plan does not rely soley on increased patrols or added officers, but also shifts some of the burden to other city agencies.   The City says it also prioritizes the blocks for street repair projects, nuisance abatements and social programs. However, the city hasn’t named what those social programs are or how they are being received by the communities living in the 100-block area.  It appears that the City is only willing to put money behind policing when it talks about “solutions.”

Oaklandofficials have said that the 100-block plan, which was introduced on October 15, combines police suppression and increased collaboration with other law enforcement agencies such as the Alameda County Sheriff’s office.  STIC is deeply troubled by this: suppression tactics, which include gang injunctions and curfews, are part of a long history of racialized and violent policing that have claimed the lives of poor people and people of color living inOakland.  Further, suppression policing tactics have proved incredibly expensive for the city financially; Oakland has spent well over one million dollars (as of last October) litigating the temporary North Oakland and Fruitvale gang injunctions and, over the last ten years, has paid out more than $57 million dollars for claims, settlements and lawsuits related to Oakland Police Department actions and abuse.  Most recently in October 2011, Oakland made a $1.7million settlement payment to the family of Jerry Amaro after he was fatally beaten by the OPD.

Stop the Injunctions Coalition continues to voice loud and clear that the City must prioritize resources for things that actually bring safety to our communities, like jobs and community services, not policing.

These cuts are another example of politicians saying that the City will address public safety with a more diversified approach than policing, yet cutting funding to the diverse structure that it takes to create a healthy city. Parks and Recreation and Public Works amongst other Community and Economic Development departments will be the most heavily effected by the loss of Redevelopment money.  The Mayor and the City Council are ignoring the obvious connections between increased social services, including better access to job training and employment for those who are on probation and parole, and public safety.  Everytime there’s another shooting, members of the Council invariably bring up more parole beats, injunctions and curfews when its clear that this is notOaklandresidents want nor what will help stem the violence in our communities.

The Council and the Mayor have been repeatedly called upon by the Stop the Injunctions Coalition and other community-based organizations to take a pro-active step to a healthier city budget by de-funding gang injunctions inOaklandand to shift those resources instead to both social services and violence prevention programs. Despite the lack of political will to push injunctions forward on the part of the City Council, the City Attorney’s Office continues to use city money in the ongoing litigation of the Fruitvale injunction, which could stretch on for months.  The movement continues to build however, as we talk with each other about what real solutions look like, enact them everyday and become more connected to continue the struggle.

Visit us at the North Oakland Phat Beets market on Saturdays to talk about building the movement, connecting with ally organizations and neighbors who want to push the City to end the ineffective and costly injunctions once and for all.

STIC at Phat Beets

Sat Jan 28 11am-2pm

Sat Feb 11 12pm-2pm

Sat Feb 25 10-2pm.

 

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