CALIFORNIA—The Oakland Police Department along with other public officials held a press conference on Wednesday, February 3, to discuss the recent surge in violent crime in Chinatown. Public officials indicated the elderly and neighborhood businesses are often targeted in robberies and assaults.
Carl Chan, President of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, said during the conference that at the beginning of January, there was a man “wearing body armor and carrying a flare gun” who was following a lady in Chinatown and shot her in the head for no apparent reason.
Police say there was also a recent, violent attack on a 91-year-old man in Chinatown that was caught on camera on January 31, at the 800 block of Harrison Street in Oakland.
According to the video, the suspect shoved the elderly man down to the ground, walked away and authorities say the suspect proceeded to harass two more victims.
“I want to start by apologizing to the victims of these heinous crimes,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “I cannot imagine the trauma that you, your family, your loved ones, and this entire community is feeling as a reverberation of this violence,” the mayor continued.
“I have not forgotten, that this last summer, they brought a proposal to cut $25 million from the Oakland police department as a political statement, not because of operational or financial need,” Schaaf added. “If that proposal had passed, those walking officers would have been gone long ago. So, I do not forget that history. I hope you do not either, and we have to pay attention to the financial and policy decisions that this council is making during this time.”
KRON 4 News reported that Mayor Schaaf noted the city budget doesn’t have the funds to bring foot patrols back to the Chinatown area, but that they are working to get cameras operating in the region.
Mayor Schaaf added that “[I will] announce a new, permanent leader of the Oakland Police Department. This leader will not only bring a new energy, and creativity to addressing the current crime, challenges, and this leader will bring a new wholistic and comprehensive approach to not just enforcing against crime but creating the conditions of safety.”
According to the city officials, the police department enacted short-term strategies to reduce street robberies, such as reallocating different personnel.
Chan said that he wants the city to immediately bring back patrol officers and install a new camera system in Chinatown.
The Oakland Police Department is asking for victims of any robberies or assaults to come forward or contact Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.