As Oakland’s violent summer stretches into Fall, much of the focus of politicians and media have been on halting the Oakland Police Department’s loss of personnel and pressing for controversial crime-fighting measures such as youth curfews and gang injunctions.
However, the dozens of Oaklanders who attended last night’s session of the Public Safety Committee spoke with one voice about what is needed to reduce the city’s spiking crime rate: jobs.
Residents bearing multicolored signs pleading for work opportunities crowded into the Mark Dunakin Memorial Hearing Room on the first floor of City Hall for the Public Safety Committee’s first session in nine weeks. Before Committee Chair Pat Kernighan could convene the meeting, Vice Mayor Desley Brooks stepped up to the podium and said, “we need jobs,” touching off cheers and chants from the audience.
Brooks’ ringleader act didn’t sit well with Kernighan, who shouted down her colleague. “You are totally out of order,” Kernighan yelled. “This is totally unprofessional.”
Brooks and her supporters, who included clergy, contractors and food truck operators, spoke to the Public Safety Committee about the impact crime is having on their lives and communities.
Much of the crowd told the committee that the souring economy is driving high crime rates, and Oakland’s 15.9 percent unemployment rate affected those in poor and rich neighborhoods alike. “I live in the hills in a very nice neighborhood, but I sleep with my gun now,” said Lance Turner of Turner Construction. Continue reading