STOCKTON (CBS SF) – Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden was nearly removed from a community meeting in Stockton Wednesday evening after a heated exchange with the city’s police chief during which he called the chief a liar and said violence in his hometown is so bad he is moving out.
Braden was at a crowded anti-violence meeting at Stockton’s Victory Park when the shouting match began.
Deep in the crowd, sporting a backwards baseball cap and a bat in his hands, Braden listed his and his family’s run-ins with violent crime in the city and what he called the lack of police response.
Braden said Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones was a liar for telling people at the meeting the department was doing everything it could to stem violent crime in the city.
“We’ll have you escorted out if you don’t wait until the end,” said Chief Eric Jones.
After the rally Braden said he no longer feels safe in Stockton, where the murder rate is on a record-setting pace. In 2011, Stockton was the second most violent city in California, and the 10th most violent nationwide.
Braden noted that he was able to walk into a meeting where police were present wielding a baseball bat, and no one stopped him. He said he carried the bat for protection as he walked with his grandmother.
“My anger is for the fear of the community. We can’t do anything. We can’t do anything,” said Braden. “I walked in there with a bat. It starts there!”
Braden said in recent weeks his grandmother was robbed and he was attacked in his car. In both cases, police effort was lacking, he said.
“I’m out of here, because I’ve been lied to my entire life here, and I hate to see these people get lied to like this,” said Braden. “I’ve already put my home on the market. I’m out.”
Braden’s grandmother said the family moved to Stockton for baseball, which led to Braden’s professional career. It was highlighted by a perfect game pitched in 2010. Braden is currently on the disabled list after undergoing season-ending rotator cuff surgery in August.
“I’ve fought for this community. I’ve given back to this community, this community raised me to be where I am today, and to be lied to blatantly by the guy whose supposed to be running the shots around here, I can’t do anything. I have nobody to go to,” Braden said.
In June, Stockton became the largest U.S. city to declare bankruptcy. On Tuesday, the city council approved a plan to curb violent crime in which offenders hold regular meetings with law enforcement – criminals are given ultimatums to get support they need to get their lives back on track or face additional sanctions.
Known as Project Ceasefire, the program has seen positive results in in other major cities.
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