Oakland Leaders Put Off Controversial Anti-Crime Measures
OAKLAND (KCBS) – After lengthy discussion, the Oakland City Council Tuesday night voted to table three controversial proposals aimed at preventing violent crime and youth crime citywide.
Mayor Jean Quan cast the tie-breaking vote to delay a final decision on the trio of proposals, which included an expansion on gang injunctions, a citywide curfew for teens and a strict anti-loitering ordinance.
“We need to have a complete conversation about these things so we can make an informed decision,” said Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who moved to continue discussion and further explore the proposals in the council’s public safety committee.
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
The vote came after the council heard public comment from several dozen community members, many of whom voiced their strong opposition to the proposals.
Councilmen Larry Reid and Ignacio De La Fuente have pushed the three measures in recent months in an effort to curb youth crime and in response to a 30 percent spike in violent crime this year, and in the wake of the fatal drive-by shooting of 3-year-old Carlos Nava in East Oakland on Aug. 8.
Quan said Tuesday she opposed the proposals and believes adding more police in crime-ridden areas will prove more effective than gang injunctions and curfews.
She noted that a federal grant awarded to the city last week which allows the Oakland Police Department to hire 25 more police officers to patrol areas around troubled middle schools is the type of measure that would help the city effectively target youth crime.
Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said she would support the proposals, citing studies that have shown teen curfew and loitering laws to be effective crime-fighting tools in other large cities.
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan echoed the need to properly vet the proposed crime prevention options before making a final decision.
While the council appeared divided Tuesday about which measures would be the most effective crime-fighting tools, dozens of speakers insisted that the city should focus on social programs that address the roots of crime rather than pushing punitive measures.
Many speakers voiced concerns about what they described as city officials’ policy pattern of trying to “arrest their way” out of Oakland’s crime woes.
Maria Leal, a 30-year Oakland resident who lives just outside of the Fruitvale District where the city is currently enacting an injunction against the Norteño gang, said that policy has not made the area any safer.
“I haven’t seen any changes, all I see is that we incriminate our youth…and the youth being incriminated for the most part are the victims of violence,” Leal said, addressing the council through an interpreter Tuesday.
Many opponents who spoke Tuesday against the crime-fighting proposals said the measures would only enable police profiling of the city’s youth and black and Hispanic residents rather than targeting the issues of poverty and unemployment.
“We need resources in our communities that will allow our young people not to turn to alternative sources to survive,” said Sagnicthe Salazar, a community activist who works at the Castlemont Business and Information Technology School in East Oakland. “Please do not try to disguise this as a solution to violence.”
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