Culture Wars/Current Controversies

What’s Driving Oakland’s Crime Wave?What’s Driving Oakland’s Crime Wave?

What’s Driving Oakland’s Crime Wave?

Fed-up residents say they will recall District Attorney

Sep 28, 2023
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Last May, Oakland police arrested nine teenagers for a string of almost three dozen robberies throughout the East Bay. In one of the robberies, the juveniles brutally attacked a 63-year-old woman in a busy upscale Oakland shopping district, beating her in the head and dragging her by her hair across the sidewalk. Then, they attacked a bystander who tried to intervene.

Within days, the perpetrators were set free with no charges.

When you share stories like this one on social media, by far the most common refrain you hear is, “They voted for this.” And that’s true: Last year, Pamela Price, the far-left District Attorney for Alameda County, won her election by a decisive 53%. Sheng Thao, the current Mayor of Oakland, who once called to defund the police, won by a sliver.

But even the most ardent criminal justice voter never imagined they were voting for what Oakland has become. And now, the explosion of crime, which has impacted just about every Oakland resident’s day-to-day life, is transforming the politics of this famously ultra-progressive city.

“She is on the criminals’ side,” an Oakland resident said at a town hall meeting on public safety of the District Attorney. “To any of you who voted for her: Shame on you, and elections have consequences. She told us what she was going to do, and somehow, the majority of people in this town voted for her anyway.”

The room exploded in applause.

Price ran on a decarceration platform. She defends her policies as the right thing to do and says she is being unfairly blamed for rising crime. At a recent community meeting, Price said she had let the kids who committed the robbery spree go free because the youths were masked, and her office could not discern which of the thieves was responsible for which of the attacks.

She went on: “All counties across the state have been asked to decriminalize young people. And so our county has adopted that as a policy.”

But the line was not a crowd-pleaser. A friend of the 63-year-old victim, who had witnessed the crime, described putting her friend in an ambulance and sending her to the emergency department. “I just want to say that there must be consequences,” she told Price. The audience clapped and cheered.

In hyper-liberal Alameda County, almost no one would disagree with Price’s mission to “decriminalize young people.” But to crime victims, decriminalization has come to mean impunity. And the DA’s deep concern for the fates of criminals seems to be surpassed only by her indifference to the needs of their victims.

What went wrong in Oakland? If voters are “getting what they voted for,” why are they so upset about it?

“The Criminals are the Saviors, and the Victims, We’re the Criminals.”

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 27, 2022: Family members console each other as Oakland police investigate a double shooting on Edes Avenue at 98th Avenue in East Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. One man died at the scene and another man was wounded. (Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

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