By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
(FinalCall.com) – Oakland’s mayor is touting its recent ranking as the fifth most desirable place to visit in the world in 2012 but just recently officials contemplated declaring a state of emergency in the crime-riddled city.
According to Chief Howard Jordan, two groups, which he has not named, have caused 90 percent of the violence since last summer. That includes four murders in six hours and 11 other shootings that occurred on Jan. 11, authorities say.
And now to the ire of many residents, activists, and community leaders, Chief Jordan and the city wants to bring in William Bratton as a consultant to help reduce violence.
As former chief of police in Los Angeles and police commissioner in New York, Mr. Bratton implemented controversial “stop and frisk” programs which allowed police stop, question and search anyone deemed suspicious.
Final Call requests for an interview with Chief Jordan remained unanswered at press time. However, he indicated in a Jan. 15 letter to the community that the Oakland Police Department stands with the community against racial profiling. He insisted the program is “often mischaracterized or poorly explained.”
Oakland’s police watch activists and anti-racism advocates cite statistics from other cities as evidence the program specifically targets so-called minorities and is the opposite of what residents need.
In 2011, they noted, as reported by The Final Call, New York police stopped, searched and questioned nearly 700,000 people–mostly Black and Latino men. In fact, there were more stops of young Black males than their total population in the city, The Final Call indicated.
“The state is making it clear their intentions to intensify the war that’s not a war waged on drugs, or guns or gangs, but the war that can be classified as nothing less than a war waged on Blacks and other oppressed people,” said Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr., son of Fred Hampton, the assassinated Black Panther Party leader, and founder of the Prisoners of Conscious Committee, a revolutionary organization.
“The people have phenomenal memories, especially on the long resume, on the history of Bratton, what he stands for, what he’s here for, and the people are not being fooled by the plan Oakland, California has,” Mr. Hampton told The Final Call in a phone interview during the Jan. 15 Public Safety Committee meeting at city hall in Oakland.
Hundreds, including Mr. Hampton, protested the city’s push for more aggressive police tactics outside city hall before the approximately five-hour meeting. Still, officials approved the agreement. Now the full city council plans to take a vote on Jan. 22 and announce its decision that day.
The conscious community and average people on the streets are very suspicious about police reports of a string of murders over a six-hour span, according to Mr. Hampton and other activists present at the meeting. Police have historically used reports of crime epidemics to play on people’s emotions and as justification to bring police and military troops into their communities, they charged.
“We have to be able to check our emotions and be very clear that anyone that believes the Oakland Police Department or the Chicago Police Department is interested in stopping crime believes that Don King wants to stop boxing,” Mr. Hampton stated.
It’s not happenstance that all of a sudden, as the meeting about Mr. Bratton was set to convene, the crime spree surfaced, he added.
Meanwhile, the city’s finance committee approved three other anti-crime measures. One to hire sheriff deputies at $265,000 for 180 days to help suppress violence twice a week in East and West Oakland. And the other two are to provide funding for an additional police academy and $1.5 million in funding to hire police personnel to help with field duty and in the crime lab.
“They want to expand and do what already got them put into federal receivership … what has already exacerbated community and police relations and what hasn’t been effective in achieving the goal of public safety,” charged George Galvis, executive director of Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice and a co-founder of All of Us or None.
While $250,000 is a drop in the bucket for law enforcement, it’s more than the annual operating budget for many organizations that actually work with people directly affected by those issues, Mr. Galvis noted.
Oakland already had “stop-and-frisk” under a 2004 program called Operation Impact, but it failed, according to Mr. Galvis and others. The operation was supposed to specifically reduce handgun-driven murders, but only six guns were seized in all of the police activity under the program, according to local newspaper reports.
“We have continued to see systematically public services get cut, education get cut, senior services, early childhood development, all the things we know actually work to help build safer individuals, families and communities get cut … . What we need is a real carrot and real incentives for prevention and intervention to address those causes of violence in our community,” Mr. Galvis said.
Officials seek end to ‘stop-and-frisk’ (FCN, 06-15-2012)