OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong is set to announce a safe streets initiative in the wake of a chaotic 4th of July weekend punctuated by shootings, illegal fireworks, a homicide, and another raucous sideshow.
Chief Armstrong was set to announce his initiative, called “Stand Up for Safe Oakland,” during a rally on Saturday at Lake Merritt.
Police sources told KPIX 5 Armstrong has been planning the initiative since before the incidents over the July 4th weekend, but the decision to unveil it this weekend is especially timely.
“We need a right now fix for what’s going on, not a year-and-a-half, two years from now,” says Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church.
Jackson says the 4th of July weekend is more evidence that Oakland’s crime challenges cannot wait for a long term solution.
“Let’s deal with the short term, and lets bring some kind of peace to our city first,” Jackson says. “Let’s get this under control.”
The debate over how to solve the violence continues as well. The homicide rate up 30% over last year, and there seems to be no consensus on how to move forward.
“That’s because there’s a lot of confusion going on,” Jackson says. “There’s confusion in the leadership. The mayor is saying one thing, city Council is saying something else, the police chief is saying something different. We, the people of the community, we don’t know what’s going on with the city of Oakland. Except, a lot of shootings, a lot of killing, and no one seems to have an answer.”
Armstrong and the Oakland Police Department were expected to offer details about the plan on Wednesday.
On Sunday, what Armstrong called “12 hours of non-stop chaos” included a homicide, several victims wounded by celebratory gunfire, and a massive sideshow marred by gunfire. Officers who responded to the were pelted by debris thrown at them and flashed with laser pointers.
Armstrong told reporters that the level of violence and gunfire overwhelmed his officers.
Police made three arrests related to the sideshow and five weapons were seized. Armstrong said one spectator was struck by a vehicle and suffered severe injuries that could lead to lifelong treatment.
The Oakland Fire Department said it also dealt with a surge in calls overnight on July 4th and 5th, requiring mutual aid support from Alameda County Fire Department and the Berkeley Fire Department.
Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo on Monday called for a crackdown on crime in the city, saying Oakland is in a safety emergency.”
“I grew up in Oakland,” he added. “It is the worse I have ever seen. Not only dealing with the sideshows, the fireworks, but the violence in the streets. The reality is we need greater enforcement. The only thing some of us understand is pushback.”
Last month, the Oakland City Council voted to divert $18 million from the police, which Armstrong would said reduce police response and decrease the number of new recruits by eliminating two academy classes over the next two years.
City Council President Nikki Fortunado-Bas said the diversion was not a cut to the police budget, but rather a reduction in the proposed increase to the budget from $27 million more to $9 million more.
The city council said the diverted funds will be used for crisis response programs that do not involve the police, as a way to de-escalate violent interactions between officers and the public.