Chaos erupts at Oakland news conference as Mayor Thao announces new grant

"I was pushed several times before I was punched. That wasn't the first time I was touched," Scott, a pro-recall protester said.

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Thursday, February 22, 2024
Chaos erupts at Oakland news conference as mayor announces new grant
While Mayor Sheng Thao and other Oakland leaders announced a new grant for public safety, chaos erupted as protesters clashed with each other.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Chaos on the streets of Oakland Wednesday morning. While Mayor Sheng Thao and other city leaders announced a new grant aimed at increasing public safety, recall Sheng Thao protesters clashed with some of the mayor's supporters.

"It was harrowing. It was terrifying. No one should go through it and this better not happen again," said Seneca Scott.

The tension getting so bad at one point, that Scott, a pro-recall protester, says he was physically assaulted.

"I was pushed several times before I was punched. That wasn't the first time I was touched. I was aggressively shoved from behind," Scott said.

The news conference eventually moving further down the road while the pandemonium continued nearby.

MORE: Recall campaign of Oakland Mayor Thao officially launched with notice of intent sent

The mayor, taking a moment to respond to the craziness.

"I just want to say, I love every single one of you. You all with signs. You all standing here behind us. This is our democracy," she said.

The new grant is a $3.5 million investment in collaboration with Oakland-based organization Family Bridges, which runs a safety ambassador program in Chinatown.

The new money will be used to expand the program into other areas.

"It's important because things are a little bit out of control right now. There's a shortage of policing, there's a shortage of relationships between merchants, between citizens, between people walking on the street," said Family Bridges' Corinne Jan.

While many of the protesters say they were out here for several reasons, one of the main ones they tell ABC7 News is that the city of Oakland lost other grant money last year.

MORE: Oakland loses out on millions in grant to fight retail crime due to missed application deadline

That happened back in September, when the East Bay city lost millions of dollars in other public safety funding after it failed to submit an application to the state on time.

The blunder received heavy criticism.

"The money was basically being handed out to us. It was just waiting for us to file some paperwork. I mean, how hard is that?" said Zoya Liu.

In 2023, data shows a spike in violent crimes, vehicle thefts and robberies in Oakland.

With everything going on, Mayor Thao says grants like these are one way to help stop the violence.

"Over the past year, we have invested in a robust police department and placed more police officers on the streets to conduct patrols and special operations."

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