Store owners to strike Tuesday to protest crime: 'Oakland is beautiful. We have to keep it safe.'

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Sunday, September 24, 2023
Oakland store owners to strike Tuesday to protest crime
Two hundred businesses have pledged to close down Tuesday to protest the spike in crime in Oakland.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Business was steady Saturday night at Salam Halal Market in West Oakland. But the convenience store owner, Ali Shami, says this year has been tough -- three robberies in the past five months.

"We used to have the ATM machine. And they broke in the store three times. Nighttime. Like 4 or 3 o'clock. And they just focus on the ATM machine. Other than that, we have no tobacco. No cigarettes. No liquor. Nothing. So, we (are) OK now," explains Shami.

On Tuesday, he is shutting down his store to join a citywide strike. Two hundred businesses have pledged to close down to protest the spike in crime in Oakland.

"You know, even if the crime is not hitting my store, (it is) hitting other businesses. It's bad. Oakland is beautiful. We have to keep it safe. Police have to do something. The mayor (has) to do something," says Shami.

MORE: Oakland's new resolution aims to grow and retain police staffing, increase video surveillance

Shami has done his part. He installed security cameras. He got rid of the ATM. But he points to additional costs of doing business in Oakland due to crime, like the rising cost of insurance.

"Most people, they are scared because, their insurance, they don't accept them no more. They have two claims, or something like that, and then they have to find another insurance. And their insurance goes too high," he says.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao responded to questions about the coming strike at an event on Saturday morning.

"You don't need to strike to get the city's attention," said Mayor Thao.

Instead, she pointed out what the city has been doing, such as the 300 cameras that will be installed around the city by November, calling in the CHP, and new measures passed this week, which include having the FBI help with investigations.

VIDEO: Thieves in SUV hook chain to Oakland store gate, drive away to yank it open

Video shows thieves in an SUV hooking a chain to an Oakland store gate, then driving away to yank it open in a break-in.

"I mean crimes does not just happen overnight. So, it is going to take a little bit of time for us to implement and execute at the government level," Thao says.

"The businesses are shutting down. They are closing because of all this crime," says another Oakland business owner, who is also named Ali. He declined to give his last name.

He has participated in meetings with business groups and the mayor. He says he understands the challenges that those involved in criminal activity may face, such a lack of job opportunities. He adds that crime can't just be left to the police to solve. Still, his store will be closed on Tuesday as well.

"This is not the only protest we are going to be doing. This is the first and it will not be the last. And if it takes us to go to Sacramento, to raise our voice, for the politicians to hear out voice, we will do it," he says.

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