I’ve got good news and bad news about crime in American cities.
Overall, crime has gone down, though violent crime is still not back down to levels seen before the pandemic. Whether this is due to an increased police presence is unclear, but many cities that briefly flirted with the “no police” idiocy pushed by Black Lives Matter have abandoned it.
The bad news is, if you live in Oakland, you are SOL.
Oakland has always been a mess. Now, with lax drug enforcement and socially conscious politicians, the crime wave that’s engulfing the city is almost beyond belief.
Robberies grew 38% last year in Oakland, according to police data. Burglaries increased 23%. Motor vehicle theft jumped 44%. Roughly one of every 30 Oakland residents had a car stolen last year, according to a San Francisco Chronicle analysis.
On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom decided to lend a hand to Oakland’s beleaguered police force and is sending 120 highway patrol officers to help. “What’s happening in this beautiful city and surrounding area is alarming and unacceptable,” Newsom said in a statement.
Nigel Jones isn’t giving up on Oakland, even after Kingston 11, his community food center for low-income families, was vandalized and its glass doors smashed.
Jones immigrated to the United States from Jamaica when he was 16 and made his home in Oakland. The chef and restauranter currently owns two Jamaican restaurants, Calabash and Kingston 11. He says he is passionate about helping Oakland’s disadvantaged families.
But “residents and businesses have pulled back from the city,” due to a rise in crime and public safety concerns, he said.
In September, Jones and other downtown Oakland business owners walked off the job for a day to urge city and state leaders to improve safety in the area.
The police have not been especially helpful. Last summer, they advised residents to blow an air horn to signal neighbors when an intruder was in the area and add security bars to their doors and windows.
In-N-Out, the West Coast burger chain, is permanently closing a restaurant for the first time in the company’s history “because of car break-ins, property damage, theft, and armed robberies targeting employees and customers,” according to CNN. The Denny’s in Oakland was able to survive for 54 years but is now closing for the same reasons.
“Pandemic-related changes in people’s daily activities and emotional and economic stress levels, changes in police practices and a rupture of public trust in law enforcement, and the suspension or reduction of social supports and programs are among the theories offered by crime scholars,” according to the Council on Criminal Justice study.
Rising crime is causing some Oakland business owners to question whether they can continue to operate in the city.
Cindy Varela, the owner of Zona Latina Hn, a Latin American restaurant, said burglars have broken into the restaurant overnight and vandalized it.
“These people come here and they broke my windows,” she said. “I lost my money.”
Nobody wants to live in a city where homeless people rule the streets and criminals ply their trade freely with little thought given to being caught. You certainly can’t operate a business or raise a family.
The 120 CHP officers being generously given to Oakland by Newsom are for political cover. He can now say, “See? I sent CHPs in to address the problem. What else do you want me to do?”
End the permissive attitude of politicians and the lax prosecution of criminals so that decent, law-abiding citizens can live in Oakland.