Education in Oakland

Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Oakland Violent Crime Report

Posted by novometro on October 16, 2006

A report released last month from the Alameda County Public Health Department finds that the homicide rate for black men in Oakland is 102.1 per 100,000 residents. For the city as a whole, the murder rate is 25 per 100,000. Statewide it is 6.7 per 100,000. For every 100,000 white people in Oakland, five are murdered each year.

The report is full of grim statistics that still shock despite the fact that, as the authors write in their introduction, “disparities by race, age, gender, and neighborhoods have been well documented.”


Posted in Crime, News, NovoMetro, Oakland, Race | Leave a Comment »

Kernighan Campaigns

Posted by novometro on October 12, 2006

One Friday afternoon, I joined Patricia Kernighan for some door-to-door campaigning in the lower San Antonio. It was late afternoon, and dead quiet. The neighborhood kids were inside playing video games, or watching television. The parents were still at work. Ms. Kernighan and her team of about six middle-aged Vietnamese volunteers accounted for just about all of the action on the hilly streets tucked behind Highland Hospital.

The leader of the volunteers was Trung Nguyen, a former lieutenant in the South Vietnamese Navy who first came to Oakland in 1969 to train at the Navy Supply Base. He returned to Oakland for good in 1981. But not before spending a few years in a Vietnamese prison. Mr. Nguyen pointed to another volunteer and said that the man had been a captain in the South Vietnamese Navy. The man smiled. Mr. Nguyen said that Oakland’s Vietnamese love Ms. Kernighan. If that’s true, it might be because Ms. Kernighan was once the chief of staff to Danny Wan, who represented the district until he resigned in 2005. Mr Wan was known as a politician who built bridges to Oakland’s Vietnamese community.

In her tight race against Aimee Allison to keep her City Council seat representing Oakland’s District 2, Ms. Kernighan is wise not to take the support of any group for granted. Ms. Allison, a smooth-talking political newcomer with a Green Party membership and a Stanford B.A. has been winning over supporters since the runoff race began in June. Ms. Allison, 37, depicts Ms. Kernighan, 57, as a pillar of the establishment.

With a troop of former officers in South Vietnamese Navy acting as her street team this particular Friday, Ms. Kernighan doesn’t even try to shake the image as an establishment candidate — although she protested the Vietnam War when she was a student at the University of Washington, and she opposes the war in Iraq. Only in Oakland could she be considered a conservative. She says she agrees with much of what her opponent says about the state of crime, affordable housing, and job opportunities in Oakland. But she says the political and fiscal realities inside City Hall quickly take their toll on high ideals.

Ms. Kernighan won the council seat after Mr. Wan resigned. She didn’t have much of a political career before that. She was active in her children’s school, Crocker Highlands. She did “volunteer stuff.” She ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 1990 against Jean Quan, who now serves on City Council. “We were just a couple of unknown housewives,” she says. She has a law degree from Hastings, but she hasn’t practiced law in years.

A politcal ally of City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, Ms. Kernighan did not endorse Mayor-elect Ron Dellums, who beat Mr. De La Fuente in June. I asked her what she thought of the new mayor.

Kernighan: I think it’s going to be interesting. I’m pretty excited to have someone who is going to be more present and engaged.

NovoMetro: What do you think is the cause of Oakland’s crime spike this year?

Kernighan: I don’t think anyone really has the answer to that. It’s kids hitting a certain age. There’s also a new drug. I don’t know the street name, but it makes the (users) crazy.

NovoMetro: What about negotiations with the police officer’s union that would change the hours police officers work?

Kernighan: I think the council is going to be tough on (the police union). Somehow the message needs to get to get to (the union) that people are not supportive of what they are asking for.

Walking down East 27th Street towards 14th Avenue, Ms. Kernighan points to a pothole and says Oakland’s roads are a disaster. (This was before a study was released, which found that they are indeed among the worst in the state.) “The streets are always what we don’t do,” she says.

Posted in Crime, Democrats, News, NovoMetro, Oakland, Politics, Ron Dellums | 14 Comments »

Detroit Vs. Oakland

Posted by novometro on October 11, 2006

Thanks to Oakland Native for directing us to this story from the Detroit Daily News. They even have “gritty” in the lead.

Posted in Crime, NovoMetro, Oakland | Leave a Comment »

Won’t You Take Me to…

Posted by novometro on September 15, 2006

In some quarters, Oakland is known simply as “The Town,” but for people with friends in the right places, Oakland apparently has another name. Maurice Himy, a local businessman with ties to Mayor Jerry Brown and Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, dubbed Oakland “Moneytown.” That was before feds arrested Mr. Himy Wednesday on extortion and public corruption charges in connection to a city contract to auction surplus vehicles. Of course, according to the public official involved (Mr. De La Fuente), Mr. Himy corrupted no public officials. “I know I did nothing wrong,” Mr. De La Fuente told the Oakland Tribune, which reported the story today.

Posted in corruption, Crime, Mayor, NovoMetro, Oakland, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Fast Links for Friday

Posted by novometro on August 25, 2006

Oakland Finally Gets a Comic Book Superhero

And the Theatre Wants A Higher Profile

Oakland Vice?

Posted in Art, Crime, Going Out, NovoMetro, Oakland, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Fast Links for Tuesday

Posted by novometro on August 22, 2006

You don’t have time to read the papers: we read them for you.

Football Player Mourned

Chip Johnson on Gangsta Rap Becoming Reality in Oakland

Posted in Crime, Oakland | 1 Comment »

Hustle and Grow

Posted by novometro on August 8, 2006

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Chip Johnson reminded his readers Tuesday that “younger individuals” in Oakland are forming “large mobs,” and then “attacking individuals.” This information was part of a larger story about the rising rate of robberies and felony assaults that is accompanying Oakland’s mounting body count.

The article brought to mind the mob of young black males I saw gathered on a street corner in downtown Oakland Monday afternoon. Tony Fontaine and about five of his friends had clustered at the intersection of 19th and Webster to peddle his new CD at five dollars a pop. Selling rap CDs on street corners as a prelude to one’s own line of fragrances and a spot on Cribs is part of hip-hop lore. It’s the music industry’s version of that Lower East Side pushcart that becomes a grand department store.

I don’t know where Tony Fontaine’s career is headed. I’m no connoisseur of rap. But I do know that his entrepreneurial spirit ought to be encouraged rather than stifled. People don’t need another reason to be afraid of large groups of young men standing on street corners.

I didn’t feel like paying five bucks for the CD, and Mr. Fontaine, 22, wouldn’t give me one as a “media demo.” He suggested we check out his music online. His MySpace page makes it clear that he is no saint. He and his partner, who together form the Full Tyme Hustlers declare a love of “weed and panties.” The music I heard isn’t much deeper. But Mr. Fontaine and the “Hustlers” were hustling, and not in the bad way.

As anyone who has ever tried to sell anything knows, it’s painful. You have to steel yourself to the indifference of strangers. If Mr. Fontaine can bring himself to endure the cold shoulders of lunchtime office workers to reach his goal, he will probably find his way in the world even if his music career goes nowhere.

And yes, I know that not every group of kids hanging out in front of the liquor store is a lemonade stand. Some young people are committing armed robbery and making Oakland worse. But we already know that. For most people, the sight of young people huddled on the sidewalk is a sign that its time to cross the street. Raising the specter of attack mobs is not performing a public service.
–Alex Gronke

Posted in Crime, Oakland, Opinion | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Crime, Oakland, Politics | 1 Comment »