Oakland's Fruitvale Village merchants demand change after repeated acts of violence

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Oakland's Fruitvale Village merchants fed up with repeated crime
Business owners in Oakland's Fruitvale Village are fed up over repeated acts of violence that are impacting their bottom line.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Business owners in Oakland's Fruitvale Village area are fed up over repeated acts of violence that are impacting their bottom line.

Now, they've come up with a list of demands for city leaders in Oakland to hold their promises to make this area safer.

Merchants say, over the span of two months in this area, there have been four brazen shootings resulting in one death and multiple people injured.

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"The four situations that have happened in the last few months, in this area without any kind of recourse," Dominic Prado, a taco shop owner in Fruitvale Village, said.

Prado says the city is aware of this area's issues after bringing officials including Mayor Sheng Thao and Councilmember Noel Gallo here for a violence summit last month.

"Ever since that meeting, nothing has happened, nothing has changed, we've only seen more continued violence," he said.

That's why merchants have since developed a list of demands for the city, including installing more cameras, parking and street changes and adding security to the area.

"People don't care, they pull up right here, they're shooting, they don't care who's walking by, who's driving," Adnan Mohsin, owner of K Market, said. "You can't go to sleep comfortable, I can't travel, I can't do anything because I'm afraid, I have to stay around my kids and my business."

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Mohsin, the owner of both a convenience store and cell phone repair shop in Fruitvale Village, says he's had windows broken in his stores seven times now, not to mention the ATM ripped from the wall of his business about six months ago.

"What world are we living in?" he said. "A third world country? Even if you go to a third-world country, they have more safety than here."

And without being able to afford insurance which he says has skyrocketed - he's considering leaving altogether.

"I'm really thinking very hard to shut this business down because I can't put myself and my kids at risk every day for these same problems, and we have the same meeting and nothing happens," he said.

Councilmember Gallo says he drafted a resolution to close East 12th street but the businesses and banks objected, then he worked to put a police substation here but Fruitvale Village's operators objected.

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"We want equitable attention to this area," Jorge Lerma, a District 5 representative for the Community Police Advisory Board, said.

But there are also calls for more long-term investment in this area, with their final demand to designate Fruitvale Village as a Latino Cultural District.

"There's a lot of wonderful, energy, creativity in this neighborhood and it's all being obliterated by the intense level of criminality that exists right now," Lerma said.

A spokesperson for Mayor Thao's office said they're exploring the possibility of opening a satellite space for city services in the neighborhood and they're in the process of doing a feasibility assessment on the possible site.

"The safety of our communities is a top concern of Mayor Thao and her Administration," Pati Navalta, a spokesperson for Mayor Thao said. "Following the forum last month, our office has collaborated with city departments on requests made by the Unity Council and other attendees at that time and on the broader issue of how we can all work together. We have also had several conversations with the Unity Council and area residents since then to move forward on meaningful steps to improve public safety."

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