Hundreds Of Angry Oakland Residents Show Up At Town Hall On Crime

Violent crime is spiking in Oakland.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 24: In an aerial view, shipping containers sit on a dock at the Port of Oakland on October 24, 2022 in Oakland, California. The State of California, currently the fifth largest economy in the world, is likely to overtake Germany as the fourth largest economy in the near future as the state's gross domestic product is continuing to rise with steady growth. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hundreds of angry residents of liberal Oakland, California, recently showed up to a town hall meeting on crime.

About 500 people packed into the Oakland Technical High School auditorium on May 30 and demanded answers and action from city leaders.

The town hall was called by Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb, a Democrat, amid a spike in violent crime across the city. The Oakland Police Department and Department of Violence Prevention hosted the community meeting alongside Kalb.

“It’s all women,” said one woman in her 50s, who said she was attacked outside her North Oakland home last month.

“Two kids beat the s*** [out] of me in front of my house last Monday night,” she said. “Down on the pavement. Punching me, kicking me, dragging me through the street.”

At first, she thought the kids needed help, she said, but then a teen boy body-slammed her, and a teen girl joined in on the attack.

“They did not get my purse. I have lungs. And my neighbors heard me and they came out,” she said. “I’m almost 60 years old. I’m one of the old women that just got taken down. And it’s happening everywhere.”

The woman is not the only older woman to be targeted in an attack recently.

In Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, considered one of the city’s safer areas, a 63-year-old woman was attacked in broad daylight outside a bustling indoor shopping mall. The attackers were part of a group of nine teens and pre-teens, police said.

Business owner Adam Stemmler, who owns a pizza shop in Oakland, said his staff had been held up at gunpoint four times over the last six years, and his shop has been broken into multiple times.

Stemmler accused the city of “encouraging this type of behavior” by refusing to address it.

Residents criticized Kalb himself, even though the councilmember had called the meeting.

One woman said a group of nine troublemaker juveniles had lived in an RV right outside Kalb’s home.

“We were so stuck and you did nothing to help us and they were right under your nose,” she said. “Open your blinds, Dan. Look out your windows.”

Police said they are working on having more visible patrols around the city.

Kalb said he wants consequences for repeat offenders and would also push for funding in the city budget for police overtime pay.

“If they’re committing these violent crimes repeatedly, we can’t just say oh, please don’t do this again,” Kalb said. “We have to catch them and create consequences.”

“We’re underfunded, we’re understaffed, we’re under-resourced and it kind of feels like the ‘Wild West’ where we’re at. And for us, it’s really about safety. We love Oakland,” Stemmler said.

Violent crime in Oakland is up 8% so far this year, according to police data. The city has experienced more than 2,800 incidents of violent crime so far in 2023.

Robberies are up 13% to more than 1,300 robberies, and rapes are up 25% to more than 80 rapes. More than 400 were strong-arm robberies, and more than 500 involved a firearm.


Car thefts are also up 26% to more than 5,200, an increase of more than 1,000 compared to this time last year.

Other California cities have held similar town hall meetings on crime over the last several months.

San Francisco city leaders held a less heated community meeting on public safety in April, where residents expressed their fears and frustrations about crime.

“We don’t feel safe,” one San Francisco woman said. “I don’t want to go out of my house at nighttime. I don’t feel safe anymore.”

Stockton, California, held a town hall on public safety in the wake of a shooting that left a 17-year-old dead.

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