By Michelle Pan
A sudden and unexpected surge in homicides on the streets of Oakland, California, has shaken local residents to the core. Throughout the past decade, this city has seen a major decrease in deadly violence and has even received national recognition for its significant efforts in combating crime. In the year 2011, there were somewhat more than one hundred homicides in Oakland, and as the years passed by, the amount of total violent crime has notably plummeted. However, in the recent weeks, this situation has begun to change, as for the first time in a decade, crime rates in this city are indeed rising.
Though it may seem improbable, in the span of six days, an alarming eight homicides had occurred. A 16-year-old student at Skyline High School was killed on Elizabeth Street, only one hundred yards away from his home. The next day at 10:20 P.M., a 29-year-old man was shot on Church Street, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Twenty minutes later that very same day, a 17-year-old boy was shot on Sunnyside Street and was rushed to the hospital, where he later died. On October 3rd, a man was shot dead on MacArthur Boulevard in East Oakland at 11:22 P.M.. All of the above homicides and more are not believed to be related, although police officers, investigators, and other officials are still looking into the details of these various crimes.
In a newly released statement to KPIX 5, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, “Every life lost is a tragedy that rocks our community with grief. Our community worked too hard to cut gun violence in half and we cannot backslide towards the trauma of that era ever again. We are doubling down with our violence prevention teams and with our law enforcement partners to save every precious life in Oakland and end the violence now.”
In response, Oakland Police Chief Susan Mannheimer stated, “The traumatic impact violence is having on our community is sort of a double whammy. It is the same community that is experiencing the highest levels in crimes of violence and gunfire as are being hit so hard with the COVID-19 disease and pandemic.”
Many officials have stated that they believe the coronavirus pandemic has had a great impact on the rise in violent and deadly crime. Numerous prison inmates have been released early due to the pandemic, and are now back to where they had lived before, but without the proper means that are necessary for them to settle down.
In addition, researchers have revealed that gun sales have gone up a significant amount, and that that may have had an impact on the increase in crime as well. Rebecca Kaplan, the president of the Oakland City Council, released a statement, saying, “We must recognize the easy availability of illegal guns increases violence and harm, and in order to reduce gun violence, we need to crack down on illegal guns, and have a timely and effective response to shooting notifications.”
She and other council members have acknowledged that a suppression of guns and other weapons is of the essence, and that officials are trying their best to protect the lives of every person that is a part of the Oakland community. In fact, it has recently been announced that FBI agents, the Oakland Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies are working together to combat this sharp surge in deadly crime.
Local residents are advised to be more alert and aware of their surroundings as officials continue to investigate these cases. Anyone with any details or knowledge of any of the incidents is expected to come forward and reach out to the Oakland Police Department at 510-238-3821.