This month, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums had to replace his outgoing public safety director, Victor Ochoa, who is considering a City Council run. So the old socialist appointed UC Berkeley alum Lenore Anderson, a public-interest lawyer and activist who won a Soros Justice Fellowship for giving "advocacy training to parents whose sons and daughters face incarceration," which, in turn, "is expected to reduce the likelihood of incarceration ... among Bay Area youth." Ah. Feel safe yet?
Anderson seems to prioritize quelling punishment over quelling crime, as if the former might spawn the latter. She formerly headed the prison-reform nonprofit Books not Bars, which according to its mission statement "fights to redirect California's resources away from youth incarceration and towards youth opportunities. We engage in grassroots campaigns using media advocacy, policy advocacy, grassroots organizing, and alliance building. Currently, we are working to close California's abusive, expensive youth prisons and replace them with rehabilitation centers and community-based programs" coming soon to your street.
BNB is one of three projects run by Oakland's Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Another is Bay Area Police Watch, devoted to "supporting victims and survivors." What, of crime? No, silly: of police abuse. Photos on its home page depict protesters whose placards read "Stop Killer Cops." Who better to occupy a post devoted to liaising among City Hall, neighborhood watch groups, and the OPD? By the way, OPD lost another nine officers this month. Oaklander Anderson claims to have been a teen troublemaker, but told one reporter that "being white and middle class" kept her out of jail. Unsurprisingly, Infoshop, Indybay, and anarchist groups link to Anderson's BNB memos, as does PrisonActivist.com, which also links helpfully to BoycottIsraeliGoods.com, Mumia.org, and IraqIntifada.com. (Indybay files an Anderson piece under "California: Police State.")
Granted, prison conditions are draconian, but we wouldn't want a crime victims' advocate coordinating community-policing efforts in a violence-besieged city, would we? Will Anderson's grassrootsiness stanch the blood-flood? Time will tell! Until then, sleep soundly (awakened only occasionally by gunfire) knowing that someone out there is looking out for young criminals.
Java jacking: At Caffe Strada, across Bancroft Way from the Cal campus, the night of September 9 was a quiet one. A man entered the patio and sat at a table where several people were working on laptops. Displaying a gun tucked in his waistband, he instructed them softly to put their laptops in his duffel bag. They complied. He did this at another table, then walked off down College Avenue with six laptops. He remains at large. Backed up your dissertation lately? This was the latest in a series of armed robberies on and around UCB, including two six-on-one attacks by teen and even preteen assailants.
Ain't no yolk: A series of eggings has residents of Oakland's Maxwell Park area asking: random albumen effrontery or hate crimes? Several of the targets have been same-sex couples' homes and cars. In one case this month the victim calls it an "awful dairy delivery" six-plus eggs were smashed inside a convertible, partially cooked into the upholstery by the Indian-summer sun.
Intimidation station: Seated in his '82 Mercedes, Tony Simon was chatting with someone at Oakland's 24-hour Beacon Gas station at 731 West MacArthur Boulevard around 1 a.m. on September 4. A robber approached; Simon started to drive off, but the robber shot him dead. Neighbors are deluging Beacon's owners with letters. "I was awakened the other night by the sound of gunshots," one wrote. "I don't pump gasoline at your station because I am afraid to be assaulted." Another, noting the "intimidating young men who are always on your premises," called Beacon a vortex of "drug trafficking, prostitution, gang activity, loitering, and yelling of obscenities at all hours of the day and night."
"Do you have any idea," another asked, "how much money you are losing because so many residents do not go to your station? I ... typically fill my 22-gallon truck two times a week, but you have never seen me at your gas station. That calculates to $130 per week, $6,900 per year, and a huge loss of $35,000 that your business could have had from me." He adds: "One night about a year ago, I was sitting at the West [Street]/West MacArthur stoplight waiting for it to change to green when a gang of individuals who were loitering on your property started chasing another person. When I began crossing the intersection, the chasee proceeded to jump onto the hood of my car and clung on for a block. Again, they came from your property!" He urges the owners to install top-grade security cameras and close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Barring that, "I will support any efforts to close your business down for good."
Dress for distress: A man was minding his own business at San Pablo and Adeline in Emeryville recently when an assailant hit him on the head from behind with a detached table leg, then stole his pants. Days later, a driver stopped for a red light at Powell and Beaudry in a Lincoln Navigator aka "the premier luxury SUV." Jumping into the idling vehicle, a gunman carjacked it after swiping $700 cash and the driver's shoes, and ejecting the unshod driver.
Stroller derby: Someone phoned the Piedmont police on September 2 to report "two men pushing empty strollers" on Wildwood Avenue. The pair was spotted first near a tot lot, "then at Dress Best for Less," the police log reads. Crafty criminals, wannabe dads, or just two dudes playing house? That same day, another caller on Wildwood "reported a man carrying a bag walking in area. Man gone upon officer's arrival," the log reads. Beware of sneaky males with ... bags or perambulators.
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