PRESS RELEASE from October 4, 2012
Re: Candidate Forum on Public Safety
Oakland—At the candidate forum on public safety at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church on Wednesday evening, Oakland’s controversial gang injunctions were a hot-button issue. All but two candidates present denounced the divisive policy, and at least two seemed to change their positions to join in the majority opposition. The city’s most vocal proponents for injunctions, Ignacio de la Fuente and Larry Reid, were both strikingly absent from the forum, despite their law-and-order centered campaigns on the issue of public safety.
“We are glad to see so many candidates taking firm positions against this destructive policy,” said Rachel Herzing of the Stop the Injunctions Coalition. “We hope that the unity in opposition to gang injunctions is a signal to Oakland city government that the injunctions should be taken off the table, and that community-based solutions to Oakland’s problems will be embraced and supported.”
The Fruitvale and North Oakland injunctions have been temporarily implemented in Districts 1 and 5 respectively, and have cost the city nearly $2 million dollars amidst consistent concerns regarding the use of racial profiling and widespread mistrust of the Oakland Police Department. Candidates across the political spectrum denounced the use of injunctions citing a lack of evidence on their effectiveness, excessive costs, the perils of racial profiling and expanded criminalization, and their lack of long-term impact as reasons. Only one candidate in District 1 and one in District 5 came out in support of the policy during the forum.
The lack of investment in this policing strategy from the vast majority of candidates demonstrates a lack of political will to pursue this controversial approach. Attorney Michael Siegel, who was involved in one of the most successful legal battles against injunctions last year, attended the forum and sees candidate opposition as a positive step. “The next thing for these candidates to know is that they have options if and when they get into office,” says Siegel. “Once on the Council, they will have the opportunity to take actions in line with Oakland residents and vote to de-authorize injunctions once and for all.”
During the forum, no questions or comments from the public were heard. Stop the Injunctions Coalition will be hosting a People’s Forum on Public Safety, October 17, to facilitate feedback and input from Oakland residents about what approaches they believe will help make their neighborhoods healthy, stable, and safe.