Oakland renews anti-violence campaign

Religious leaders and community members meet with the police chief to renew their violence intervention strategies. (ABC7)

March 18, 2010 11:50:39 PM PDT
Hundreds of people came out in Oakland Thursday night to find solutions and to take a stand. Sick and tired of the daily violence their children are forced to grow up with, people came together to find ways to make their community safer.

More than 300 people came to the event and even some speakers from the East Coast were there. People in Oakland say what they are seeing in the fight against crime is making them very happy and they want more of it.

The overall crime rate in Oakland is down about a third compared to last year and the group that gathered Thursday would like to see that trend continue.

"Usually, crime fluctuates five to seven percent. When you have dramatic drops of 37, 27 and 30 that means that we're going in the right direction; those are huge numbers," said Police Chief Anthony Batts.

The activists would like to see more community outreach workers on the streets of Oakland.

"We now have street outreach teams going out to our most dangerous neighborhoods connecting people who are caught up in cycles of violence to opportunities," said Oakland community organizer Barbara Lafitte-Oluwole.

Oakland community organizations held a meeting tonight to talk about their ideas and listen to others. Community leaders from as far away as Rhode Island and New York were on hand to share what works on their streets.

"Did the drug model initiative. After the first year, crime went down? 74 percent," said Risco Mention-Lewis from Nassau County, New York.

Regardless, ideas cost money and the city of Oakland has a money problem. City councilwoman Jean Kwan says she understands the importance of these outreach workers, but adding 10 more would cost about $1 million.

"It's going to be very tough, but what we've agreed to do and what I'll pledge tonight, is to work with them to see how we can find that funding," said Kwan.

They hope something can be done before a 15th white cross is added to a memorial in Oakland. The crosses represent this year's murder victims. Some of the people leaving the night's meeting walked away feeling hopeful.

"I think people are inspired to take action, there's a clear strategy, I think it will work," said Oakland resident Angie Noel.

Kwan said she will look for stimulus money, for grant money, or maybe rearrange some money so the city council can try and fund the ideas heard at the meeting.


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