NovoMetro

Education in Oakland

Oakland’s Not Alone

Posted by novometro on July 31, 2006

The six homicides in New Orleans this weekend have earned that stricken city national headlines. A devastated police force has struggled to curb killings in a city where large segments of the population remain without basic services. With an estimated post-hurricane population of around 225,000, there have been 78 murders in New Orleans this year.

Three people were murdered and one 57-year-old bystander is in critical condition after gun-violence in Oakland this weekend. What’s Oakland’s excuse?

Since January 1, 81 people have been killed in Oakland. The majority of the victims have been young, black males.  It’s cold comfort to the victims’ families, and to the frightened residents in violent neighborhoods, but Oakland is not alone. Murder is up five percent nationwide.

In Oakland, the dead are largely not casualties of gang wars over turf, or control of the illegal drug trade.  It’s the hopeless killing the hopeless. Professor James Alan Fox, who studies homicide at Northeastern University and is the co-author of The Will to Kill: Making Sense of Senseless Murder, puts it this way:  “We have a record number of at-risk kids on the street today. Kids who are poorly supervised, poorly monitored, and poorly educated.”

And this demographic trend, says Mr. Fox, comes at a time when the federal government is cutting programs that helped reduce crime between 1993 and 2000. He points to the president’s plan to cut $380 million from the federal Community Oriented Policing Services in 2007. That’s a reduction of almost 80 percent, but that’s a better fate than the White House has in mind for the $400 million-Byrne Justice Assistance Grants program, which Mr. Fox writes, “supports local governments in a broad range of crime prevention and crime control initiatives.” Mr. Bush wants to cancel that program altogether.

It’s sometimes lost in the clamor over a murder rate that is nearly double last year’s, but robberies are on the increase on Oakland’s streets as well. According to Oakland Police Department records, there have been 2,061 robberies so far this year, compared to a total of 2,590 for all of 2005.

Still, Mr. Fox cautions against responding dramatically to a dramatic rise in crime. He says that extreme measures like curfews do little to stop murders, and that sharp increases in crime rates are often followed by declines.  Next year, may not be as bloody in Oakland, or New Orleans.

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One Response to “Oakland’s Not Alone”

  1. Madeline F said

    Hey, I just found this blog and I’m really liking it. Does it have a LJ feed?

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