Eight people were shot in five separate shootings in another bloody weekend for Oakland, days after proponents of a plan to defund the city’s police department slammed Mayor Libby Schaaf’s proposed two-year budget as “completely antithetical” to their demands to gut the law enforcement budget.
The most violent of the shootings happened at 3:22 a.m. Saturday 0n the 1400 block of Lakeshore Ave. when four people were struck by gunfire. The shooting happened near Lake Merritt in an area where violent crime is uncommon, but not rare as the city grapples with surging incidents of gun violence.
People were also shot Friday night into Saturday morning on the 5800 block of Howell St. in North Oakland, on the 400 block of 17th St. in Downtown Oakland, on the 1400 block of 89th Ave. in East Oakland, and on the 2600 block of East 27th St. in the Fruitvale District. Another gunshot victim was dropped off at Highland Hospital.
The burst of gun violence follows the Mayor releasing her proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2023. The spending plan was immediately met with intense criticism by supporters of the Defund OPD campaign.
“Increasing the Oakland Police Department's funding after years of Oakland police abusing their power and terrorizing Black and Brown communities proves that Libby is incapable of imagining — let alone implementing — a safe Oakland that doesn't include the mass policing, incarcerating and terrorizing of Black, Brown, Indigenous and poor Oaklanders,” read a statement from the Anti-Police Terror Project, a self-proclaimed community group seeking to gut the police budget by half. “The vast majority of people in Oakland want the city to reinvest in our community and address public safety with prevention — not retribution. We want — actually we need — better schools, emotional and mental health support, economic opportunities, less potholes, cleaner neighborhoods, improved libraries, and housing for all, yet the Mayor refuses to listen to these demands.”
The group pointed to an earlier unanimous vote by the Oakland City Council to support a sweeping set of recommendations on how to defund the police department. The recommendations were compiled by a “reimagining public safety task force.”
“Libby's refusal to act on these recommendations is a slap in the face to the people of Oakland and everyone who participated in the reimagining safety process,” the statement continued. “The People of Oakland are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic and this budget would do nothing to help them recover. We need a proposal that prioritizes housing and services for the homeless, reinvests inadequate city services, and reimagines public safety by cutting millions of dollars spent on ineffective or unnecessary policing from OPD's budget.”
The city said the police department’s budget is 18 percent of the Mayor’s proposed budget, which is lower than in the past.
“We are proud of the hard work our committed, talented, and courageous public servants did this past year to respond to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic,” Schaaf said in a statement. “We owe it to them to keep focused on the core responsibilities of city government, work within our organizational and financial capabilities, all the while safeguarding the long-term future health of the beautiful city, we are so proud to serve.”
“We will continue to push back until we have an equitable budget that diverts money from the police, invests in Black and Brown communities, and supports alternative models to policing,” the Defund OPD campaign stated.
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