PRESS RELEASE from Wednesday October 3
Re: Candidate Forum on Public Safety at Lakeshore Baptist Church – 3534 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland
Tonight at Lakeshore Baptist Church, Oakland community organizations are sponsoring a public safety forum for candidates in the races for City Council and City Attorney. With City Council elections nearly a month away, residents are trying to figure out which candidates are prepared to address public safety issues, including the impending federal receivership of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), excessive police misconduct lawsuits, and controversial policing policies such as gang injunctions and youth curfews.
Tonight’s candidate forum comes in the wake of another heated Oakland City Council meeting last night, where hundreds of residents turned out to demand city accountability for the OPD killing of 18 year old Alan Blueford. The Council responded to the turnout by closing large sections of the meeting room to the public, but was eventually forced to turn over a police report to Blueford’s family, five months after the killing.
“City Council’s inability to respond to the community in a moment of grief and anger demonstrates again how policing fails to meet Oakland’s needs,” says Kamau Walton, a member of the Stop the Injunctions Coalition. “During these hard times, people are concerned with issues of public safety and wellbeing. We’re wondering which city politicians will be able to make policy decisions that reflect our needs rather than continue to invest in failed and destructive approaches.”
Districts 1 and 5, sites of Oakland’s temporary gang injunctions, are slated to elect new City Council representatives. The injunctions continue to be unpopular and most candidates have distanced themselves from the divisive policy, except for law-and-order stalwarts Ignacio De La Fuente (at-large), Noel Gallo (District 5) and Don Link (District 1). It remains to be seen which candidates will work with these impacted communities to implement lasting public safety solutions that rely less on expanding police power and budgets. “OPD continues to eat up 40% of the city’s general fund and policing continues to be prioritized over people in Oakland on a number of levels,” says Maisha Quint, a cultural worker in Oakland, “I’m tired of showing up to City Council meetings with lists of solutions that work for our communities only to have them dismissed in favor of more police spending and fear-mongering tactics that don’t work for our neighborhoods.”
Oakland residents continue to call for expanding educational opportunities, meaningful afterschool and recreational programming, more resources for violence prevention workers, and more effective reentry services for people returning home from prisons and jails to address public safety concerns. Members of the Stop the Injunction Coalition will be turning out to tonight’s forum to question candidates on their priorities and capacity to sustainably address safety for all Oakland residents.