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Oakland is beset by a number of cultural problems. First of all it has a rough reputation that is statistically accurate, drawing aspirants to the violent lifestyle. Secondly people stay in their homes after dark, leaving the streets free of witnesses. Thirdly people have largely resigned to 100-150+ murders per year. Fourthly, there is a huge cultural divide between Rockridge-Hills-Piedmont and that area referred to derisively as "the flats". It is a classic war between the haves and have-nots. You have an iphone. I have a gun. Now your iphone is mine.
We cannot incarcerate our way out of this. Prisoners are released onto the same streets that resulted in charges in the first place. Ron Dellums was criticized by many as being a part-time mayor but he had a clear spiritual message directed towards those who do crime. Not the tired rant about lock em up. Look at his numbers. Considerably fewer homicides than under Quan.
At least he projected a certain human passion and the message "let US stop killing each other."
There has to be more respect. More respect between every ethnicity, and all economic classes, as well as age groups, people of different sexual orientation, different religions, different educational backgrounds, and different criminal records.
As long as criminals are simply jailed and released they are coming right back and they might not have a sunny disposition.
Guess what? They have a right to be here too.
Policymakers have to assemble a credible plan to bring criminals to the table and make them part of the community.
Like Einstein said, you cannot solve a problem by bringing the same way of thinking to it. All this talk of hiring more police ignores the political reality that such measures are incremental and ineffective.
They are expensive and in this town unpopular in the wake of historical police issues. Eventually we will hopefully get past that pall. Building bigger prisons and hiring more police is too expensive, too punitive, and not civic minded. It is collectively a force similar to the very street violence it aims to quash. It is also the reason why the United States is the best at locking up criminals. Too bad it leaves its residue of violent hatred, giving the unintended consequence of what we have today.
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