To our Black brothers and sisters who are grieving and demanding change, I see and stand with you. To our community who has protested, testified at meetings, and sent thousands of messages to me and City leaders, I hear your calls for police accountability and for transformation of a system beyond reform.
Following the killing of George Floyd and protests nationwide, I said it is our responsibility as elected leaders to condemn systemic racism, including acts of police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force on our communities, disproportionately Black, Brown and Southeast Asian.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to hear directly from Minneapolis Councilmembers who made a bold call to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and create a new transformative system of public safety. They described “radical collaboration” with community organizations to re-think public safety from the ground up. In the past week, Alameda, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities have proposed or pledged to reduce police resources.
In Oakland, after 17 years of non-compliance with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement to achieve constitutional policing, after 3 years of our citizen oversight Police Commission struggling for necessary City resources, and after the deaths of Oscar Grant, Richard Perkins, Demouria Hogg, Erik Salgado and many others to law enforcement, it is long overdue that we act for police accountability, investment in our communities and transformative safety solutions.
We must also acknowledge the community’s lack of trust in government. For my office’s part, I will continue and recommit to advancing “people-powered government”. We will co-govern with community organizations, leaders, and families as partners and experts to transform our current policing system into one that is centered on meeting the needs of all Oaklanders and especially our most vulnerable, rather than reproducing the very trauma and inequities we collectively must end.
We Hear Your Calls for Transformational Change
To Redistribute Our City Budget to Community Services & Safety
I’ve heard from thousands of you in the past two weeks expressing concern that 44% of our general purpose fund budget goes towards policing while 2.4% goes to Parks & Recreation, 2.3% to Human Services and less to other important services. The calls to divest in policing and invest in community recognize that communities of color have been historically over-policed and under-resourced. Study after study shows that a living wage, access to holistic health services and treatment, educational opportunity, and stable housing are far more successful in reducing crime than police or prisons.
In addition, residents call 911 for help with mental health, homelessness, conflicts with neighbors, and other non-violent crime issues. Many of these issues do not necessarily require / are not best addressed with law enforcement resources; rather, they are healed through trauma-informed services and trained professionals.
I believe that right now, Oakland City Council must ask: how much of a police budget and how many officers do we need to keep our communities safe?
By taking a hard look at our police budget, I am proposing the following initial ways to reallocate at least $25 million towards improving safety and providing the services our residents really need:
- Homelessness Prevention: We can expand housing and support services for community members coming home from incarceration by shifting $905,562 that the proposed budget allocates for OPD’s Homelessness Unit with Measure Q funds. Outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons and jails have prompted the release of thousands of people who need immediate and dignified housing.
- Housing the Homeless: We can support and house more unsheltered residents during COVID-19 with $2.5 million for a homeless outreach team as an alternative to OPD, encampment leadership stipends, motel vouchers and funding for successful exits from motels into housing.
- Mental Health Services: We can pilot the Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland (MACRO) program in East Oakland neighborhoods in partnership with community organizations with $1.5 million. Such a program would enable a crisis worker with mental health training to be dispatched to 911 calls for mental health crises.
- OUSD Safety Plan and Youth Programs: We can support OUSD’s safety planning as they remove police from their schools with $2.5 M to fund school-site based life coaches, violence prevention / crisis intervention teams, and gender-based specialists to eliminate the need for law enforcement presence, suspensions and expulsions. I’m proud to support this effort and the OUSD resolution to be voted on at the June 24th OUSD Board meeting.
- CSEC and Trafficked Support Programs: We can support Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) and adults subject to Human Trafficking with $1 million to provide outreach, support, housing and job training in partnership with community organizations led by survivors of sex trafficking.
- More Staff for Police Accountability. We can improve police accountability by increasing the number of investigators for the Community Police Review Agency to investigate complaints of misconduct with $800,000. We can also support strengthening our Police Commission by bringing a measure to the November 2020 ballot.
Community Safety Ambassadors. We can address issues in our neighborhoods, parks and business districts with trained, civilian staff who are well-positioned and trusted to provide graffiti abatement, event safety, conflict resolution, mediation, and public education. This could be modeled after existing programs.
- In Chinatown, Asian Prisoner Support Committee serves as Ambassadors with a daily presence to build trust with local residents and merchants. They clean up graffiti, pick up trash, report illegal dumping, serve food and provide support to homeless folks and more. We could expand this model to other business areas like Eastlake, Fruitvale and across the City.
- In May, our office helped to launch the pilot of COVID-19 Ambassadors with Parks and Rec. to conduct education in our parks about COVID-19 and city/park rules.
- Many cities rely on self-policing or security by the community at events and demonstrations, with police stepping in only during a true emergency. Organizations such as Community Ready Corps already conduct this type of community-led service such as providing safety support for the recent car caravan and curfew demonstrations attended by over 5,000 people.
We can build off and expand these community-led safety and job creation efforts with $5 million.
- Continued City Services. We must support our frontline workers providing vital services in the City of Oakland by not laying off, furloughing or otherwise harming our city workers. We must also keep them safe and able to serve our city by avoiding $10.8 million in labor concessions which the Mayor is proposing. This proposal unfairly forces the City’s lowest-paid workers to bear the brunt of the budget concessions.
Please continue to make your voices heard. Support my budget proposal to invest in community services at Tuesday’s City Council meeting at 1:30pm. See details here to join the meeting and provide public comment. You may also share e-comments here.
Updates on Protecting Peaceful Protests
Halting Use of Tear Gas and Militarized Weapons
After the first night of protests, I called on the Mayor and City Administrator to halt the use of tear gas. After peaceful students were tear gassed before the first night of curfew, I called on the City again to halt the use of tear gas.
At Tuesday’s Council meeting, I am introducing a resolution to immediately halt the use of tear gas and have our Police Commission update our policy permanently. Please share e-comments here.
Last year, I opposed the City’s $300,000 purchase of a new “bearcat” armored vehicle and referred the issue to the Police Commission who rejected the purchase. I support the Police Commission in creating a comprehensive policy to halt the use and purchase of militarized weapons.
Small Gatherings, Parking Enforcement
Updated County Public Health Order: As of June 8th updates, small gatherings of 12 or fewer individuals from different households or living units who form a “Social Bubble” to take place in outdoor spaces are now permitted in Alameda County. In addition, childcare providers can now provide care to all children, not just those of essential workers; distanced career internship and pathway programs can resume; libraries can open for curbside pickup of books and media; and certain businesses providing services with limited person-to-person contact, including appliance repair and pet grooming services, can resume.
The Alameda County Reopening Plan lays out what businesses and activities will be included in future updates to Shelter-in-Place, as well as an outline of the impact of increased social activity on the risk of exposure to infection. See the City’s reopening planning resources, including federal, state and county guidelines.
Parking Enforcement Changes: Oakland will restore parking meter operations citywide beginning on July 6th. Each vehicle will receive one warning ticket as a courtesy to educate the driving public of the change. After the initial courtesy warning, vehicles in violation will receive a regular parking citation. The courtesy warnings will only be given during July. Meanwhile, the City continues to enforce red, yellow, white and green curbs; blue curbs / spaces; fire hydrants; sidewalk and crosswalk blocking; double-parking and bike lane violations; wheelchair ramp obstruction; essential construction work; unauthorized use of disabled person parking placards. The City will NOT be enforcing: time-limited parking (example: one-hour or two-hour zones); residential permit parking; street sweeping parking.