Oakland Crime Stats Update, May 2010

It’s that time of the month again! Let’s check in on Oakland crime statistics.

Just like when we looked at this last month, crime continues to be down significantly, both compared to last year and the last few years.

The progress is, of course, very welcome. I can’t help but wonder a little bit about such a dramatic drop in rapes, though. Does that seem weird to anyone else? Just cause, in general, rape doesn’t seem like the sort of crime that would go away so quickly in response to more aggressive or more efficient policing. It makes me wonder if there’s some kind of reporting or recording issue going on there. Any insight into that one from readers would be much appreciated.

May 2010 Oakland Crime Stats

The numbers, as usual, come from the Oakland Police Department’s weekly crime report (PDF) and are as of May 9, 2010.

54 thoughts on “Oakland Crime Stats Update, May 2010

  1. Eve Norman

    I grew up in East L.A. and have lived in an apt. in downtown Oakland for the past 20+ years. I’ve never owned a car. I walk or use public transportation. If I’m out alone after dark, I DO NOT walk the 5 blocks to my apartment building; I take a cab from the stand next to DeLauer’s news stand near the 12th St. BART station. The $6. fare, including tip, is safer then if I parked in a garage and walked across the street. The cab driver waits until I’m inside my building before driving off. We should ALL be aware of our surroundings, no matter where we live OR the time of day. The only time I experienced crime in Oakland? In broad daylight, when a tenant was moving OUT of my apt. building, the front doors were left open, and someone attempted to break into my apartment. I have a New York lock, so they were not successful

  2. David

    56% drop in car thefts? wow. I’d file that in the “not sure I believe that” category too.

  3. Ralph

    The rape numbers though welcomed do seem suspect. Maybe fewer people are reporting.

    David, the 56% drop is over a 3 year period. I thought I read that OPD has been working to dismantle the car theft rings. The 35% y/y drop seems consistent with last year. And unlike rape, I suspect there are few people who don’t report a stolen car. A stolen car radio maybe, but a stolen car?

  4. Mike Spencer

    My only theory for decrease in auto thefts is that the old Hondas and Toyotas thieves love so much, the early and mid-90s ones with universal key, are going out of use. Newer cars = more sophisticated alarms and such to deter the “casual car thief,” i.e. kids. That did not stop my neighbor in Oakmore from having two muscle cars with alarm systems swiped within three months.

  5. Ralph

    One more comment on the rape numbers, maybe, just maybe, all the work that people are doing to prevent rape and change people’s attitudes is taking root. I really don’t want to be dismissive of my friends who spend their career doing this type of work.

  6. len raphael

    not asking more of v, but anyone know comparable stats for other california cities?
    if govt wants credit when crime declines, then they’ll have to accept blame when it goes up.

  7. len raphael

    as my late unpleasant father in law used to say ” dont bs a b_sh_er”.

    darn few blogging contributors are going to have experience with a large unbiased sample of reality. yeah, yeah there is strong temptation to change “one” to “several”, and similar data enrichments but are any of us relying on the sample size of fellow participants to evaluate their opinions? Aren’t we mostly evaluating their analysis and proposed solutions for problems the experts who govern us have ignored or misinterpreted. Learning different perspectives on the same old problems and set of facts we’ve all observed.

    -len raphael

  8. Ralph

    Len, I believe you can obtain that data from online FBI stats. I don’t know how frequently they update it.

  9. Ralph

    Len, why do your comments always end up in the oddest of places?

    Do you doubt that I know 438 police officer? A third of whom live in Oakland, another third in Alameda, and the other third outside the area…

  10. len raphael

    Ralph, i swear i don’t misplace my posts on purpose. I can’t find the darn correct thread, so i figure no harm if i place the post in the no thread thread. it’s 100% the fault of bill gates and michael dell because the combo of win 7, firefox, and a cheap dell laptop make it hard to see where i’m posting. but more likely, i need a tutorial on how to figure out what thread i’m in; and then how to search for threads that are not currently displayed on home screen.

    be glad i don’t twitter.

  11. len raphael

    rockridge ncpc posted minutes of its april meeting w chief batts. the Q&A session:

    crime related, so ok to place under the crime stats?

    touched on why he doesn’t like lateral transfers;and presciently mentioned he has no experience running animal control. also explained he favors anti loitering youth law, not a blanket youth curfew. is that been his position from the start and i made the error of going by the Trib’s description of it as a general youth curfew?


    You point to the continuing Rider’s NSA judicial supervision as evidence that OPD has serious problems. i don’t see it that way, nor would i say that when the NSA supervision ends it means that we didn’t have serious opd problems.

    My impression is that it’s more a legalistic cya, make sure everything is documented thing, and opd hasn’t gotten the cya paperwork part right yet.

    -len raphael

  12. Ralph

    Len, thanks for posting the rockridge ncpc minutes. Cottontop may be one of the worst mayors ever, but his decision to bring Batts to Oakland will keep him from being the worst of the worst.

    As to the youth curfew / anti loitering a great idea. I am 97% certain that a group of 3 loitering youth were up to no good in front a packy on San Pablo.

  13. len raphael

    Trying to imagine the atmosphere at Youth Uprising today with Eric Holder extolling the virtues of the North Oakland Gang Injunction, flanked by Chief Batts and our Mayor. Suppose the Youth Uprising people had to be gracious hosts because Holder offered the 12mill? carrot in the other hand.

    Or did he announce his support after physically leaving YU?

    Any videos of that?

  14. Livegreen

    Len, I echo that. Especially as Maya Dillard Smith works part time for YU and came out against the Gang Injunction, basically calling it racist on KQED. Wonder if the Chief was able to convince YU differently? It’s the second time he’s been their recently…

  15. Ralph

    I am in love with Eric Holder. Cottontop is moving on up if the courts give him the okay to implement the gang injunction. C-top should ask BHO to use the national stage to highlight the gang injunction as a smart approach on crime.

    C-top’s next step should be to take a page from Batts mission statement. The City’s mission statement, “The City of Oakland is committed to the delivery of effective, courteous, and responsive services. Citizens and employees are treated with fairness, dignity and respect,” is as pathetic and meaningless as OPD’s former mission statement.

  16. Dave C.

    Did Holder really “extol the virtues of the gang injunction”? In the video by Davey D posted at Oakland Seen, Holder answered a question about the gang injunction very cautiously, saying that he wasn’t familiar with the particulars of Oakland’s gang injunction, but that he generally supported “creative” efforts to deal with crime, and that we can debate the merits of various particular tactics. In the remarks captured in that video, he seemed to go out of his way not to explicitly endorse the gang injunction, but maybe he was just trying to avoid ruffling feathers.

    Or did Holder more explicitly support the gang injunction in other comments that I missed? The Chronicle article implies that he came out in support of it, but the quotations they use are from his vague and non-committal response in the Oakland Seen video.

  17. Max Allstadt

    He certainly didn’t rail against it with the kind of fire we’ve been seeing from certain local organizations.

    Incidentally, the strongest case I’ve heard for the injunction so far, and the strongest direct rebuttal of various allegations being made about the injunction, can be found here:


    Russo really gets into full stride at the end of this, decrying the polarized politics that is making even a well thought out injunction into a source of controversy.

  18. len raphael

    Next read oakland trib article today on Holder’s visit to YU. This goes to the other extreme with 0 mention of Holder saying a word about the Gang Injunction and unquestioning acceptance of YU’s self promotion. http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_15063924

    A generic quote from Holder about supporting effective organizations followed by the journalist quoting a 21 year employee of YU attesting to the effectiveness of YU.

    Was this a case of newspaper reporting bias or was Holder being all things to all people and each reporter only saw part of his visit?

    -len raphael

  19. len raphael

    The video clip if comprehensive, made it very clear that Holder was being very careful to to avoid taking a position on Gang Injunctions to the point of being noncommittal.

    I don’t see how the Chron reporter got their take on his speech. If anything the Trib journalist might have been a bit more accurate because all Holder said was that GI was one more “tactic” that should be considered. Which is a watered down version of what most proponents of GI would say: try it, modify it, evaluate it, modify it. decide whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

    if i heard it correctly, Holder referred to his good friend, our Mayor.

  20. Ralph

    “The nation’s top law-enforcement official said he supports a variety of initiatives to combat gang-related violence, saying they are among ‘comprehensive, holistic solutions to the problems that affect our community.’”

    The above quote was taken from the Chron story. When I first read it, I thought great Holder understood the gang injunction and was on board. If you’ve listened to Russo enough about the G.I., then you know he refers to holistic solutions.

    After listening to the DaveyD clip, I don’t think Holder utters those words. He is open to new approaches, but never heard him say gang injunction is good. D888 unreliable news sources. I probably need to rely on the bloggers for my news at least they get the facts correct. And they certainly don’t misattribute.

    Max, thanks for the link. Of the KQED, KPFA, and KALW interviews, the KALW was probably Russo’s best interview on the subject.

  21. David

    I didn’t say that, Brad. I don’t know. a 56% drop in car thefts even over 3 years is pretty spectacular though or a 30% decrease in muggings. Usually when something like this swings so much in the absence of mitigating demographic or other factors (all of a sudden Oakland morphed into San Jose and I missed it), my skepticism level increases.

  22. livegreen

    Max, thanks for the link to Russo’s interview. I agree with Ralph, he’s getting better. I think he was pretty good on the last one too, only Aimee Allison’s opinions were less neutral.

  23. Dave C.

    Ralph, we don’t need to get too deep in the weeds on this, but for the record, Holder did utter those words about “comprehensive, holistic solutions.” He did so in the context of talking about how the Depts. of Justice and Health and Human Services and local community groups etc. all need to work together, instead of being compartmentalized in “silos.” The Chronicle article never suggests that he was talking about the gang injunction when he used those words (the mention of the gang injunction comes much farther down in the article). And the Chronicle article never claimed that Holder said the gang injunction was “good”—if you interpreted it that way, then it may have been a case of hearing what you wanted to hear.

    As I said above, I think the Chron article did imply, somewhat too strongly, that he endorsed the gang injunction, when in fact he was much more cautious and non-committal, but I wouldn’t go so far as to accuse the Chron reporter of any kind of bias or even factual inaccuracy, and as far as I can tell he didn’t misquote Holder anywhere in the article. Reporting people’s views clearly and accurately, with appropriate nuance and emphasis, isn’t always so easy, and Henry Lee may have missed the mark in this case, but not by any more than most of us do when we are trying to represent the statements of other people. (For example, your representation of the Chronicle article in your most recent comment strikes me as being less accurate than the Chronicle reporter’s representation of Holder’s views. I don’t say that to be nasty, but simply as an example of how easy it is for all of us to miss the mark when we are trying to summarize someone else’s views.)

    Anyway, back to the substance: I’m not sure what difference Holder’s opinion about the gang injunction ultimately makes, but if I had to speculate based on his words and tone in the video, my own guess that he is inclined to support injunctions as one tool worth trying. He probably responded to the question about the gang injunction with so much circumspection either because (a) he hadn’t been briefed on the specifics, and is a savvy enough political player to know that it’s unwise to wade into controversial local issues without preparation, or (b) maybe he had been briefed on the issue, but didn’t want to make waves by staking out a position that would distract from his bland remarks about the important work that Youth UpRising is doing yadda yadda yadda.

  24. Dax

    “comprehensive, holistic solutions.”

    Explain to me Lucy, how you have a “holistic” solution without a viable opportunity for jobs as the biggest chunk of any such proposal.

    However, Oakland supports policies that draw and encourage ever more competition for the very jobs that many of these gang members might be eligible for, were they so inclined to choose a different route in life.

    The alternatives, the pressure relief valve jobs, are largely being filled by others as Oakland ignores the reality of the real world.
    Every action they take or refuse to take seems to play into the dismal economic environment these young men face.
    Go look around the city. Don’t listen to the leaders. Go drive the streets and avenues, the factories, the warehouses, the job sites, the construction sites, and see how many young men of similar background to these gang members, are being hired.
    Even those without criminal backgrounds.

    Quite honestly, its surprising there isn’t more crime.

  25. Max Allstadt

    I think that based on the fact that gang injunctions with much harsher scopes have been passed by superior courts in other California cities, it’s a fairly safe bet to expect this one to pass. It’s about the softest version of the practice that’s ever been attempted.

    I also think that Russo and Batts are among the most talented people involved in city government. It would be highly unlikely for both of them to jump into this without being very confident of success. As such I think it would be far wiser for the folks concerned about the injunction to stop focussing on stopping it, and start focussing on monitoring it.

    If both sides maintain dialogue after the Judge OKs it, the entire process will be far better for everyone. If activists continue to throw around inflammatory anti-police rhetoric, they’ll be taken less seriously if something actually does go wrong in the implementation of the policy.

  26. Ralph

    David, the reporter implies that Holder supports gang injunctions. The paragraph was discussing gang measures. Holder supports a variety of measures and the injunction is one of a variety of measures. The quote was a bit out of context.

    I listened to the clip 1 and 3/4 times. I probably missed Holder refer to “holistic” the first time because I was I was only half listening to his opening remarks. I know I missed it the second time, because I only listened to his Q&A. I would hope the reporter could play the tape while writing versus me having to go between screens.

    Holder and good. You are reading too much into that. Had Holder actually supported a g.i., one could conclude that he thinks it is a good idea. Would you support a bad idea? If you like, I’ll re-write the comment and replace good with support.

    Neither Holder nor BHO’s opn really make any difference. And yes, he was not fool enough to wade in murky local waters.

  27. Dave C.

    Max: Or perhaps they’ll be taken more seriously, because they can say “See! We told you so!” Hard to predict how these things might play out.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the injunction personally. The civil libertarian in me finds them inherently creepy and problematic, the pragmatist in me suspects that they aren’t effective, and the law-abiding citizen in me thinks that they’re worth trying, because something has to be done to put an end to the violence, and any tools at our disposal are worth trying. Russo’s comparison of the gang injunction to a domestic restraining order seems somewhat disingenuous, although I have trouble pinpointing exactly why. He also seems to get a little weaselly in his language sometimes when he talks about how these are known criminals, but at the same time acknowledges that not all of them have been convicted of crimes. We’re just supposed to trust the authorities that certain people are gang members who need special infringements on their rights? As I said, I find it all inherently creepy and problematic.

  28. Colin

    Regarding the crime stats, the drop in rape cases doesn’t seem outside of statistical probability because the sample is so damn small. I don’t know who compiles these stats, but I would suggest breaking them down as a 12 month period ending with the most recent month – that is, rather than base numbers on a calendar year, base them on a linear year. That’s an easy way to compensate for sample size and represent trends without having an outlier distort the data.

  29. Max Allstadt

    I think the comparison to restraining orders is pretty reasonable. The only difference here is that the city is filing the restraining order. If a civilian filed a restraining order against even one gang member who threatened them, that civilian could easily end up dead. When the city does it, the potential for reprisals is prevented.

    The reason that it’s possible to restrain people who haven’t been convicted is that the injunction uses standards of proof from civil tort law, rather than criminal law.

    Because the injunction doesn’t impose criminal penalties unless the restrained parties violate the court order, it is completely appropriate to use the “preponderance of evidence” standard, instead of the “reasonable doubt” standard. And I’m pretty damn sure that the evidence being presented to the Judge for consideration will be well above the standard required.

    Again, the Batts and Russo would be nuts to go into court thinking that they’re only going to win 10 out of 19 injunctions. They’ve probably whittled the list down to 19 from twice that many in order to be sure to win big. It would be totally reckless to set themselves up for the liability that even a 25% loss would create.

  30. livegreen

    Dave C., The Gang Injunction is going to directly impact 19 people with known gang affiliations. Please explain what’s creepy about putting restraining orders on gang members conducting gang activities in an area plagued by both the gang and crime?

    BTW, Chief Batts has said the gang injunction in Long Beach was effective. In Aimee Allison’s interview of Russo, she said it wasn’t effective. I’d like to understand more about that contradiction. In the meantime I’ll chose to trust the Chief since he was involved in that process and appears to have some knowledge of it.

  31. Ralph

    Just a note, as I understand the injunction situation, the identified adults is now down to 15 as 4 of the named individuals have been arrested and are in prison for other crimes.

    From all accounts, I believe that the officers, Batts, and Russo did all the legal work to apply for and hopefully be granted the injunction. The good people of this N. Oakland neighborhood should not have to live in fear.

    Max’s post is spot on.

  32. Livegreen

    Thanks for that update Ralph. It’s further evidence that the preponderance of evidence in the GI is indeed targeting individuals known to b involved in criminal activity and members of gangs. Part of the Chief’s focus has been to crack down on the 1% of core criminal offendors who commit a majority of the serious crimes in Oakland. From what Ralph is saying, it sounds like Batts and OPD are continuing with this at the same time, & not relying only on the gang injunction. It is part of a multiple-prong strategy.

    BTW, part of what I liked about Russo’s prior interview with Aimee Allison was when she mentioned something about OPD’s history of oppressing the community (I’m paraphrasing), he accurately defended OPD by saying that is no longer the case today with OPD being one of the most diverse PD’s in the nation (again paraphrasing).

    That is a valid point that goes too seldom mentioned. & it is true from the top down, and hopefully will continue to increase.

  33. Dave C.

    livegreen: “The Gang Injunction is going to directly impact 19 people with known gang affiliations. Please explain what’s creepy about putting restraining orders on gang members conducting gang activities in an area plagued by both the gang and crime?”

    What’s creepy, among other things, is the “known gang affiliations” part. Known to whom? Known based on what evidence exactly? Russo has said that some of the evidence includes statements the people have made on social networking sites. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to worry that there is a big potential for abuse when people’s friendships, or their writings on MySpace, can be used to “identify” them as people with “known gang affiliations.” I have no reason to believe that the individuals named in this particular injunction are not gang members who are involved in the criminal drug trade, but I can easily imagine a scenario where some dumb 19-year old who is friendly with the drug dealer down the block, and who engages in ill-advised braggadocio on MySpace about his gang “connections,” could end up being wrongfully named in one of these injunctions and endure a Kafkaesque nightmare as he tries to clear his name and salvage his reputation.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I do find it a bit creepy for the government to identify people as “known criminals,” and forbid them from spending time with certain people in certain places, before they have been convicted of any crimes. Again, I have no reason to doubt that any of the particular people named in this injunction are gang members, but it’s the potential for abuse, and the precedent that these injunctions set, which give me concerns.

    Max: I understand the different standard of evidence used in civil and criminal courts. As I just said to livegreen, my concerns are not about the specific evidence being used against these particular individuals. I worry much more about the possibility that these kinds of injunctions can be abused, and the precedent they set for restricting people’s rights based on factors like who people associate with, or what people write on their MySpace pages, or whatever other legal and constitutionally protected activities they engage in.

    I don’t doubt that the court will uphold the gang injunction, since other, broader injunctions have been upheld in the past. I am heartened to know that there is an appeal process built into the injunction, and also that any individuals who are later added to the injunction will need to be approved by a judge. Judicial oversight isn’t an absolute guarantee against abuses, though: many judges are deferential to the judgment of law enforcement and government officials, and history offers plentiful examples where judicial oversight failed to prevent civil rights abuses. The supreme court itself approved the long-term detention of tens of thousands of American citizens because of their “known affiliation” with an enemy of the United States in world war two. Oops! So much for judicial oversight.

    In more recent years, we’ve all heard about cases like the Canadian guy who was detained for years, sent to Syria to be tortured, and then later released with little more than an apology, because his “known terrorist affiliations” turned out to be inaccurate. Thankfully, I happen to trust John Russo and Anthony Batts more than I trust, say, George Bush or Dick Cheney, and obviously the people subject to the gang injunction are not being detained or sent to Syria to be tortured, but just because we all believe Russo and Batts to be men of integrity who won’t abuse this gang injunction doesn’t mean that the ACLU or Youth UpRising don’t have legitimate concerns about how this injunction (and future inunctions) will be implemented in practice. What happens if, a few years down the road, Russo doesn’t run for re-election, and Batts leaves to run the LAPD, and people with less integrity take their places? I always get nervous whenever government officials want to expand their powers, or infringe civil rights, based on arguments that amount to “Trust us, these are bad people that we are dealing with, and we are honorable people who promise not to abuse our powers.”

    Or what happens if some town with less principled leadership in the municipal government and police department, decides that a gang injunction sounds like a swell way to, for example, keep people with brown skin from spending time in their town? That wouldn’t happen in Oakland, but it could certainly happen in other places of the United States, and these gang injunctions seem to set a dangerous precedent that could be easily abused in places which aren’t swarming with government watchdogs. (In case anyone thinks that these things couldn’t happen in modern America, read up on the drug cases in Tulia, Texas in 1999 for a recent example of how the legal apparatus can be used to infringe people’s civil rights, with a judge who was perfectly willing to go along. So much for judicial oversight!)

    Anyway, I’ve gone on too long, but those are the gist of my concerns: the potential for abuse, and the precedent that these injunctions set for less enlightened implementation in other jurisdictions.

    As I said in my earlier comment, I have mixed feelings about the North Oakland gang injunction, and I honestly don’t know whether I support it or not, but given the uncertainty about whether gang injunctions even accomplish anything, and the potential for abuse, and the precedent that they set for infringing people’s rights without full due process, I’m not yet convinced that the benefits outweigh the costs. Even if the benefits do outweigh the costs in this case, these injunctions seem like a slippery slope to start going down.

    I’m actually a bit surprised that no one else here has expressed any concern at all about these injunctions. Surely I’m not the only reader of A Better Oakland who worries about the potential for abuse, or the precedent that these sorts of injunctions set for further erosion of due process in the future—or am I?

  34. len raphael

    Most of us in North Oakland who support the GI are aware of the risks and contradictions. It’s a classic situation of people are willing to erode civil liberties for hoped for security. If we let it go on autopilot because it’s them not us whose rights are getting abused then we have tobaggoned down the slope.

    you have all “kinds of people” in parts of North Oakland who have to live with gunfire at random times. i’m not going to tell them that’s the price they have to pay for civil liberties because we can’t afford more cops and we have neither the resources or any certain solutions to fix the causes of crime.

    -len raphael

  35. Dave C.

    I’m glad to hear that most supporters of the gang injunction are at least cognizant of the risks and contradictions. Russo, to his credit, acknowledges that the ACLU has principled, legitimate reasons for their opposition to gang injunctions, but I was starting to get the impression from the comments here that some people consider the bill of rights quaint or archaic.

  36. livegreen

    Dave C., You say Russo, to his credit, acknowledges the ACLU has principled, legitimate reasons for their opposition. In his interviews he has answered these concerns directly, and has explained how he has structured this GI to answer those concerns, and tailored it narrowly as a result.

    But the ACLU chooses to ignore those safeguards or the narrowness of the GI, when Russo is meeting those very same concerns.

    It is not that some of us don’t have concerns. It’s that we’re satisfied Russo is taking steps to meet them.

  37. Ralph

    Dave C, Russo has sometimes used what sounds like weaselly language when describing the methods used to identify the First 19. However, I doubt any judge will accept just a Facebook outing as a preponderance of evidence. I have to trust that in identifying these 19 individuals, the team has done sufficient work and identified sufficient evidence to support the injunction.

    While I think it is okay to have concerns, at some point both parties need to trust each other. If we ignore new approaches to crime because we don’t trust the other party, we are not going to move forward. If you like, trust but verify.

  38. Andrew

    Just getting around to seeing the latest crime stats here. My hypothesis is that with so many people unemployed, more people are at home with their eyes on the street, which deters criminals. The one category that hasn’t declined a lot is burglaries, but that’s a crime where the crooks plan more carefully beforehand. That’s consistent with my hypothesis.

    BTW I am one of those people who was leery of the gang injunction. “Trust us, we know these guys are dirtbags” sounds too much like “trust us, we know the perps we’re gunning down with drone missiles are Terrists who hate our freedoms.” On the other hand, I really want to explore that part of NOakland and feel hesistant about going there.

  39. Dave C.

    Livegreen: He has answered those concerns to your satisfaction, and Ralph’s, and many other people’s (and presumably to the court’s as well), but not necessarily to mine or other people’s. As Russo told Aimee Allison, though, the ACLU is opposed to gang injunctions in principle, so he recognizes that no amount of tailoring or modification will get them on board. That’s why we have courts to rule on the constitutionality of these things, What bothers me about some of the comments here is when people act as if it’s totally unreasonable for anyone to oppose gang injunctions on principle, and the ACLU should just get over their silly fixation on civil rights and get on board, because all right-thinking people can see that the people named in these are bad apples, and we can trust the government and the courts to get these things right. I don’t want to put my trust in anyone that much–especially government officials, but also the courts.

    I meant to add last night that I share your desire for more info about the efficacy of these gang injunctions. If I heard any independent voices (I.e. anyone other than law enforcement officials and elected officials) arguing that they are effective, then I would be less reluctant to check my civil liberties concerns at the door. (That’s still probably not the case for the ACLU etc.)

  40. len raphael

    Andrew, no reason to hesitate walking or biking thru any part of North Oakland, anymore or less than say Adam’s Point or Fruitvale. Hmm, maybe not at certain hours.

    I’m too lazy to look at the stats, but all the stuff i hear on the North Oakland sites is about gunfire presumedly drug/gang related,burglaries, some car theft. Not muggings, not rape.

    It annoys me but the ACLU is doing what they should be doing. Don Link who is one of the local NCPC activists supporting the GI, is a card carrying member of the ACLU who rejected my suggestion that he burn his membership card.

    -len raphael

  41. livegreen

    Dave C., Some people here might have acted as if the ACLU’s comments are unreasonable, but some have used very specific language to describe why they feel that way. Being specific about this GI & the reasons for it, are not the same as just generally blasting the ACLU like some right-wingers do. Please don’t mix the two together or it becomes another “you’re either for-us or against-us” simplicity.

    Regarding not trusting government officials or the courts, are you saying because of the Bush Administration you don’t support any left-wing politicians who opposed them and hold office? Any government officials?

    Remember the courts and government officials in the Bay Area are much more liberal than your previous sightings. So rather than look for the worst case examples of govt & courts (ie. the Bush Administration) & then apply it hear, it would be more balanced to look at the government officials (Russo & Batts), courts, and how they’ve described the GI (or letter of the actual injunction if you have time) to make an impartial decision.

  42. Dave C.

    Livegreen: It’s not necessarily a left vs. right thing, although the Bush administration did seem to make a special effort to violate people’s civil rights. I prefer Obama to Bush by miles, but the Obama administration has continued some of the dubious practices of its predecessor (or at least defended its right to continue those practices if it sees fit). And it was FDR, a hero of the left (a hero of mine in some ways) who thought that interning over 100,000 Japanese-Americans on the West Coast was a justifiable response to the threat from Japan during WWII. Government officials on the left are susceptible to excessive misuse of government power too. I think it’s pretty much a universal that if you expand someone’s legal powers, then they will use those additional powers, and soon they will start to test the limits of those powers, and excesses or abuses will inevitably follow, if not here in Oakland, then in some other city which decides to use this relatively new tactic. Maybe that makes me cynical, but there are good reasons why the constitution allocates powers to so many different parts of the government, and explicitly gives citizens protections against their own government.

    One reason the ACLU takes such inflexible (and nonpartisan, often) positions on things like gang injunctions is that there is a lot of historical evidence that if you expand the power of government (or anyone else, for that matter) and reduce people’s civil liberties, then that power will almost certainly be abused or misused at some point, even if the reduction of civil liberties was done with good intentions in response to valid fears. And when a community feels under threat (whether it is during WWII, or after 9/11, or nowadays in North Oakland), those are the times when governments are most susceptible to going overboard in their infringements of civil rights, often with the support of a citizenry which feels threatened or insecure. So those are precisely the times when the ACLU feels the need to be extra vigilant in opposing infringements of people’s civil rights. Like it or not, that’s just the nature of the ACLU beast, and wanting them to stop opposing Russo’s gang injunction is like wanting PETA to support the expansion of hunting season—PETA might conceivably help craft hunting laws which will reduce the harm done to animals, but they’re still not about to come out in favor of the laws.

    I’m not as absolutist as the ACLU on these issues, which is why I don’t oppose the gang injunction, but fighting against the infringement of civil liberties is the ACLU’s core mission, so it seems unfair to say, for example, that the ACLU is choosing to “ignore the safeguards,” as you wrote above—in my opinion, they aren’t ignoring the safeguards at all. According to Russo, the ACLU worked fairly closely with him to craft those safeguards, and he says that their input helped make it a better injunction. That doesn’t mean that we should expect them to throw their bedrock principles out the window and support the injunction.

    As for your suggestion that I should worry less about worst case examples and focus more on the details of this particular injunction overseen by these people in this city, I will continue to do that, but keep in mind that my concerns (and, I assume, the ACLU’s concerns) aren’t only about the potential for abuses in this particular injunction, with this particular set of officials implementing it. I also worry that if these injunctions become common tools of law enforcement, then they will inevitably start to be used in places where the government is less enlightened or trustworthy, or where there are fewer activist groups around to raise red flags, file lawsuits, and generally keep governments in check. So as reassuring as it may be to know that Russo and Batts are the ones overseeing this gang injunction, and as reassuring as it may be that this injunction has safeguards that other gang injunctions do not have, none of those specifics can address some of my larger concerns about gang injunctions, which as far as I understand are still a fairly new tool which have only been used in a handful of cities, mostly in California.

    Anyway, I’ve gone on far too long again. I’d be happy to keep discussing this, but I’m not sure that I personally have any more to say. I think you pretty much understand where I’m coming from, even if we don’t agree. I’ve said way more on this topic than I expected to when I chimed in up above to provide the link to the video from Holder’s Youth UpRising visit—believe it or not, the gang injunction actually isn’t a topic that I have strong opinions about one way or the other, despite what it may seem from my comments here (I do, however, have strong feelings about civil liberties in general, which is why the gang injunction sets off my ACLU-member antennae). I don’t necessarily disagree with you on the merits of the injunction, all things considered. And if you turn up any good information on the efficacy of gang injunctions, I’d love to get a link..

  43. Dave C.

    I guess comparing the ACLU to PETA might not have been the smartest rhetorical move if I am trying to convince anyone that the ACLU is being reasonable, since “PETA,” for many people, is nearly synonymous with “unreasonable.” Oh, well—so be it! :)

  44. len raphael

    Dave C, before your last post, i was sorely tempted to point out that you were ignoring how obama’ was taking some of bush’s dubious procedures to a greater extreme. But a discussion on that would not have led anywhere useful. So thank you for your last post.

  45. annoyed

    Here’s what I love about you people When crime is up, you are so on board with it and blaming like crazy. When crime goes down (except under Jerry Brown), it’s a big fat lie. You all are so entertaining.

  46. annoyed

    Is it possible that Holder is in favor of support services and activites for youth AND gang injunctions? Since when did these things become mutually exclusive concepts/ I am a pretty hardline liberal (but don’t identify with phony local “progressives” who think they know what’s best for everyone else. No one asked you, and I really don’t care) I also carry a massive bullshit detector with me at all times.

    However, I am big on personal responsibility blah blah blah. This is why I have no GD sympathy for all the whiners who complained about the parking changes that took place last summer. It’s your car, be responsible. Stop acting like a baby.

    I think parents of minor criminals should be required to do some kind of community service to recompense the community for unleashing their little terrors on us, That includes all you “special” folks in the “good” neighborhoods who get your kids out of trouble because you know somebody. These kids in particular should be slammed hard for having the resources to live productive lives and who choose to piss it away. A pox on them and their parents. Make them volunteer for kids who really have nothing.

    I don’t like YU and their funky politics one bit but they seem to do good work. I’d like to see an organization step up that teaches kids without requiring that hip hop be the cornerstone of their mission statement. There actually is such a one but I can’t remember the name. YU would have you believe they are only the game in town, which they are not.

  47. David


    I’m thrilled that crime has gone down, and clearly the murder rate has. All I’m saying is that a 30% drop even over a couple years in muggings or 50+% drop in car thefts seems like it could fall in the “too good to be true” category, especially compared to the 8-11% drop in murders. If that’s real and backed up (by, say, victim surveys), then the OPD is doing something right, and although we can’t afford their retirement benefits, I’m happy they’re doing their jobs well. (and actually, I’m not nearly as motivated to cut current salaries, it’s the benefits that are the real fiscal killer, and could be adjusted with far less pain, IMO, through increasing qualification age etc).

  48. len raphael

    annoyd, not mutually exclusive except when you don’t have enough resources to do them both effectively.

    Understand Holder’s reluctance to jump in supporting GIs without knowing the details, but that didn’t stop him from praising YU. How could he have done his due dilligence on YU when there haven’t been any independent evaluations of YU and many other similar programs. Maybe that’s why the Trib journalist could only quote the 21 year old YU staff member as support of YU’s effectiveness.

    -len raphael

  49. annoyed

    Len: You are being simply petty. If Holder sees a group that is helping kids, what else does he need to know? You don’t like YU because why? Are they cranking out gangbangers or are they turning kids around? If you don’t know then you don’t needt to have an opinon,. A lot of kids have a place to go that is safe. Why does that bother you? What resources are you talking about? We don’t have resources to protect kids? Are you kidding me? I don’t like YU’s politics either but until you are some other naysayer comes up with something better, let YU do what they are doing.

    If Holder hasn’t read the injunction, why would he have a specific opinion? He is after all, a lawyer. And if this issue somehow lands in his office for any reason, it is PREFERABLE for him not to have a statement on the record about it. He is after all the highest lawyer in the land.


  50. Livegreen

    Someone saying there hasn’t been any independent evaluation of YU isn’t the same as saying they don’t like the program, orthat they’re being naysayers. It’s only stating that it would b productive if there were independent evaluations about whether their programs are effective.

    Now effective is somewhat subjective, it is true. For some it might b that YU provides a safe place for kids, for others it might b that they get a college degree. & It also depends on the stated objectives of YU itself, or the funders giving them money (like M-Y).

    I think there is merit to all these criteria, but agree with Len that it would b helpful if there’s some form of evaluation to determine the program is working vs. other existing programs, taxpayer and/or privately financed.

    It is nice that kids have a safe place to go, and allow kids to b kids. Hopefully they are building on that to also help give kids opportunities. Are they doing this, are they succeding,and either way are they working to build and improve?

  51. mike spencer

    Good example of aggressive law enforcement last week. OPD stopping and citing tons of folk at Fruitvale and 580, likely for seatbelt stuff. Two days later I got cited for rolling a stop sign at 64th and Foothill.

    I like to see this aggressive traffic enforcement. It reminds bad guys that they are not free to just roam and do as they please. It reminds the rest of us to drive more carefully and that police are in fact doing their jobs. Officer who cited me was Cunningham and he was all business, very professional.