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In Oakland, things are even worse than you thought


The hottest story in the Bay Area right now is that of the Oakland Chinatown liquor store owner who saw a woman being mugged on the street, grabbed his gun (for which he had a permit), rushed outside, and tried to protect her.

The store owner, whose name isn’t being released, fired four shots into the air, as the elderly Chinese woman who was being mugged fell to the sidewalk. Her assailants fled, presumably frightened by the gunshots.

You might think this store owner is a hero. I certainly do. But according to the Oakland Police Department (OPD), he’s a criminal. They have arrested him, on a count of felony assault with a gun, and last I heard, he’s in jail. The muggers, of course, are nowhere to be found, and are presumably free to re-mug other innocent victims.

Oakland Chinatown is appalled, as well they should be. The tightly-knit little community has been under assault from outside thugs who know that the cops don’t care if they rob a store or mug an old person. Indeed, everybody in Oakland understands that Mayor Libby Schaaf has instructed the police chief to stand down on street crime. OPD barely responds anymore to calls from citizens. You almost never see a cop in Oakland. Morale among the force is said to be at an all-time low. I hear reliably that scores of Oakland cops are looking to get out, to work someplace less hostile to them. Even as the crime rate soars, a good part of the citizenry hates cops and is demanding that the already pillaged OPD budget be cut another 50%.

That idea is the brainchild of far-left City Council members. They have formed a so-called “Reimagining Public Safety Task Force” whose other recommendations are remarkably dangerous and stupid. Among these are:

  • Eliminating the use of OPD’s helicopter because it “bothers” certain people
  • Eliminating all military titles (Sergeant, Lieutenant) and replacing with “civilian” titles
  • Eliminating standard blue uniforms in favor of “plain clothing” in order to “increase racial equity”
  • Allowing community-based activists to vet police academy participants
  • Hire “those struggling with alcohol and drug issues” and “people with developmental disorders” in a “new department” within OPD to respond to 911 calls
  • Compel all officers to “undergo community sensitivity training”
  • Budget millions of dollars for a “youth-led decision making” process within OPD so that youth can “give input” to the police in a way that “ensures equitable outcomes”
  • Hire homeless people “to guide City Council’s response to the housing crisis”

Well, there’s a total of 144 recommendations, so I clearly don’t have the space to list them all. None of the recommendations, let it be noted, calls for increasing OPD’s understaffed officer count, or for actually arresting criminals. Suffice it to say that this “reimagining” is the stuff of fantasy, ideology and recklessness. When Oakland is paying “youth” and “homeless people” to run the police department, we’re in deep trouble.

Another rumor making the rounds is that the City of Oakland is paying homeless people $200 whenever their tent burns down, and is giving them a $100 gift card at Whole Foods. I can’t vouch for this story’s veracity. But knowing Oakland government, it sounds plausible: the city is paying homeless people to be arsonists.

Oaklanders like to think of themselves as a welcoming people. The city is one of the most diverse in the world, in terms of its racial, ethnic and cultural background, and that’s one of the things we residents celebrate. The downside of this welcoming attitude, though, is that the far left has twisted it into a ridiculous satire of political correctness. A notorious example of this occurred some years ago, when Schaaf announced that Oakland welcomed “our unhoused brothers and sisters” after Berkeley, San Jose and San Francisco got tough on encampments. When that message went out, our unhoused brethren flocked to Oakland. The onslaught got worse when the word went out in the homeless community that Oakland would also provide people with free housing, food and medical services. The result was predictable: the city is overwhelmed with encampments. Block-long piles of rubbish are strewn everywhere. Human feces stains the sidewalks and park benches. Deranged people roam the streets day and night, screaming at passersby, and there’s no one to call: the cops will not interfere because they don’t want to get caught in an “incident” that sees ambulance-chasing “civil rights lawyers” suing them for “brutality.”

Is there a relationship between the thuggery Chinatown has been seeing and Oakland’s welcoming attitude to homeless people? Absolutely. The twin phenomena both are byproducts of the prevailing “social justice” philosophy pervading Oakland political circles. Cops were just forbidden by the new Chief from touching suspects, even violent ones who are resisting arrest. (How’s that going to work out?) I hear through friends in close contact with OPD that officers are quitting in droves, transferring to other cities where cops aren’t loathed and prevented from doing their jobs. If you go into stores like CVS or Target, you see criminals loading bags with shoplifted stuff. They don’t even try to hide what they’re doing, they just browse the shelves like everyone else, take what they want, and walk out unmolested. The staff sees it all, but they’ve been instructed to do nothing—certainly not to call the police, who wouldn’t come even if they were summoned. When I talk to friends on the street who are super-lefties and I ask what they think of this widespread theft (or “re-appropriation,” in the language of the left), they say they have no problem with it. “The big chain stores are insured,” they say. “And besides, when people are poor, that’s what they do.”

This is what I call the entitlement of criminality. The left complained all the time about Trump being a pampered, entitled white man, but they can’t see the beam in their own eye. They’re blind to the entitlement on the left—“whatever we do and say in the name of disenfranchised people of color is correct.” If you object in any way, you’re a racist.

Living in Oakland, one has the feeling of general breakdown. It’s a terrible, sad thing to see, and those of us who have to live here have no option but to oppose it, as futile as that may often seem.

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