For far too long, an anti-police mob has been calling the shots on public safety policy in Oakland. They have turned public meetings into a mockery of democracy -- shouting, hissing and heckling anyone who disagrees with them. They have been able to get away with it because some council members and city officials have been more concerned about pandering to the loudest mouths than showing real leadership.
These misguided individuals have done everything in their power to block efforts to develop a violence prevention and reduction strategy that could help save the lives of the very African-American and Latino boys and young men whom they profess to care so much about. The ones who are shooting and killing each other in the streets along with innocent bystanders.
It is time for those in the sane, silent majority, to take back your city. Whether you live in Shepherd Canyon, Sequoyah Hills or Montclair where burglars are busting down the doors to your homes, or in East and West Oakland where you risk getting shot on a walk to the store, or you're being preyed upon by robbers in Chinatown, it is time to say enough.
Our elected officials are attempting to begin to put into place the citywide crime prevention strategy that many of us have been demanding to address our city's violent crime epidemic.
There is an important City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday where officials will vote on four crime measures. It is critical that
Neighborhood organizations. Churches. Senior groups. That means you.
It is imperative that those who represent the real Oakland, who want our city to take meaningful action so we can begin to restore sanity to our streets, let their presence be felt. You don't have to speak. Just show up.
"We are calling on you, the people we represent, to come in large numbers to this City Council meeting, fill the seats and set the tone," City Council President Pat Kernighan said in an email to her constituents.
Kernighan promised to give those who try to disrupt the proceedings the boot.
I can all but assure you that if reasonable people don't fill up the seats, we will have a repeat performance of last Tuesday's fiasco at the Public Safety Committee meeting.
Anti-police elements disrupted that meeting in their efforts to stop city officials from hiring William Bratton as part of a consulting team under a $250,000 contract with the Strategic Policy Partnership.
Why? Because when Bratton, one of the most well-regarded law enforcement experts in the world, was police commissioner in New York City, police used a so-called "stop and frisk" tactic. The practice allows officers to search anyone that they have "reasonable suspicion" of having committed or being about to commit a crime.
Bratton opponents claim he would bring stop and frisk to Oakland, leading to more racial profiling of blacks and Latinos. I highly doubt that federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who has been overseeing the negotiated settlement agreement growing out of the Riders police scandal, would allow OPD to go on a rampage violating people's civil rights.
This opposition is really about seizing an issue to push an agenda at our city's expense.
In fact, Bratton won praise for building better police community relations in Los Angeles. He helped steer that city through federal reforms resulting from the Rampart police corruption scandal in the late '90s -- another area of his expertise that can benefit Oakland.
"It's not about stop and frisk," said Councilman Larry Reid. "It's about having someone who has expertise come in and help us put together a badly needed public safety plan so we can make this city safe for people and their families."
Reid and Councilwoman Libby Schaaf are co-authors of the other three crime proposals on the council agenda. These include the hiring of 11 Alameda County sheriff's deputies for an initial 90-day period, funding for a second police academy in September, and authorization to hire 20 police technicians to assist patrol officers in the field as well as one desperately needed technician for the OPD crime lab.
Schaaf thinks it's so important for people to come to the council meeting that she sent a mailer to her 5,000 constituents and made a robo call urging them to come out and support the four measures. I was also glad to see Mayor Jean Quan write a strong letter to the council last week urging support of the Bratton proposal.
Now, it's time for the silent majority to stop being silent.
City Hall is located at 14th Street between Broadway and Clay Streets. There is free parking in the garage next to City hall.