Connect with us

Crime

OPD Chief Armstrong Meets with Pres. Biden About Federal Funding for Police

The announcement comes as rising violence has plagued many U.S. cities during the pandemic, including Oakland and a tendency for violence to rise in the summer. 

Published

on

Oakland Police/Wikimedia Commons

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong met virtually with U.S. President Joseph Biden for an announcement Wednesday about federal funding for violence reduction and violence intervention in the U.S. 

The announcement comes as rising violence has plagued many U.S. cities during the pandemic, including Oakland and a tendency for violence to rise in the summer. 

According to Biden’s office, homicides in large cities were up 30% year-over-year last year, and up 24% in the first three months of this year, compared with the same period a year ago. 

Oakland has experienced 61 homicides this year alone, up about 90% compared to last year. 

 “I think it’s (the funding) a tremendous opportunity for the city of Oakland not only to increase its efforts to address gun violence in the city but also an effort to potentially increase police staffing as well as additional efforts for our violence intervention efforts,” Armstrong said to reporters after his meeting with the president. 

“We feel like we are well-positioned as a department and as a city to compete for this funding,” Armstrong said.  

He did not say how much money the department would seek.   

 Armstrong said the city’s Ceasefire strategy “covers all the aspects of the announcement today.” 

 Oakland’s Ceasefire strategy has been successful in the past at reducing gun violence in Oakland.  

The strategy includes focused enforcement efforts, violence intervention, street outreach and using resources to address the re-entry of offenders into the community. 

“We have a goal of reducing recidivism,” Armstrong said. 

Biden on Wednesday addressed calls for defunding police departments, reportedly saying it’s not the time.  

When asked about concerns residents might have about more police funding, Armstrong said, “Well, I think the message from the president is clear. I don’t think it’s time with the increase in violence that we’re seeing, even here in the city of Oakland.” 

Sixty-one homicides this year “says we have a significant challenge in front of us,” Armstrong said. “It’s not the time to have less resources.”

Armstrong said he appreciates Biden “authorizing funding that will potentially increase resources because there is a great need.” 

The demands for defunding police, Armstrong said, are centered around reform.

“I think people want to see better policing,” he said. “I think we’ve already begun to practice what I feel like is better and more constitutional policing in the city of Oakland.”

African American News & Issues

Jobs, Mental Health, Gun Violence: Cal Leaders Discuss Helping Black Men and Boys

Services include criminal record expungement for some marijuana-related crimes; job training and placement help; mental health treatment; addiction services; housing placement and more.

Published

on

Young Black Boy Reading a Book, Stock Photo courtesy of California Black Media

The California Assembly’s Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color held a meeting last month that brought legislators face-to-face with community organizers to discuss investing in African American and other youth of color in a “post-pandemic California.”

Introducing the various panelists, committee chair Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), who is a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, spoke about the bipartisan nature of the committee’s goals.

He said people from different backgrounds and political perspectives reach agreement when talking about the plight of youth of color because their conversations are based on hard numbers.

In California, per capita, Black men and boys are incarcerated more than any other group; are unhoused more than any other group; are affected by gun violence more than any other group; and in public schools, Black children’s standardized test scores fall only above children with disabilities.

“One of the things that brings both sides of the aisle together is data. What we would like to see is either internal audits or accountability measures to show that your numbers are not only successful but you’re keeping data over a period of time showing your success rate,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Committee vice-chair Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a Republican, agreed with this assertion.

“I am looking forward to the instruction that we’re going to get today,” Lackey said. “This is a part of our population that deserves the attention and a much stronger effort than has been displayed in the past.”

The first topic discussed during this meeting was gun violence, as panelists towed the line between cracking down on gun violence and preventing the over-policing of communities of color.

“How can we do this without returning to a punitive approach that grows the prisons, the jails and the criminalization of our community without achieving the public safety we so desire,” asked the Rev. Michael McBride who is known in the Bay Area as “Pastor Mike.” McBride is a social justice advocate and the national director for Urban Strategies/LIVE FREE Campaign with the Faith in Action Network.

The meeting was an opportunity for participants representing community-based organizations to share ideas with legislators with the hope of influencing their decision-making.

As of 2019, California had the seventh-lowest firearm mortality rate in the country. But with the state’s large population of almost 40 million people – the largest in the country — that still equated to 2,945 deaths that year.

“As everyone knows, there are probably too many guns in too many people’s hands who should never probably ever have guns,” Jones-Sawyer said.

Jones-Sawyer addressed the racial element of victims of gun violence in America.

“Many of those individuals were Latino and African American so it behooves us that post-pandemic, we need to figure out what we’re doing, what we need to do if we want to protect our boys and men of color,” Jones-Sawyer said.

He also offered up part of a solution.

“This year we need to infuse the California Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program (CalVIP) with a large sum. We did put in money for a large sum to fund the work that we so desperately need to get not only guns off the street but out of the hands of people who should not have them.”

The second topic on the agenda was post-pandemic mental health care.

Le Ondra Clark Harvey, chief executive officer of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, spoke on the intersectional nature of mental health issues in communities of color.

“Historically, Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) communities’ mental health and substance abuse disorder services have been impacted by several factors including access to treatment, cultural beliefs and stigma,” she said.

Largely, Clark Harvey said mental health treatment for BIPOC people has not been preventative.

“When BIPOC individuals do seek help, it tends to be at a time of crisis; at an emergency room, a psychiatric hospital or due to some type of interaction with law enforcement,” Harvey said.

She also spoke about the increase in opioid use, suicide and calls to crisis hotlines for boys and men of color.

Two of the programs in California mentioned during the meeting that are making headway on mental health problems facing Black men and boys are COVID-19 Black, an organization dedicated to lessening the effects the pandemic has had on the Black community, and Strong Family Home Visiting Program, a Los Angeles County-based program that provides in-home family support services.

Wraparound service approaches to care were also discussed as a way to shift “focus away from a traditional service-driven, problem-based approach to care and instead follows a strengths-based, needs-driven approach,” according to the California Department of Social Services.

The last topic of discussion was on career pathways and building generational wealth for communities of color.

Tara Lynn Gray, director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate, highlighted that most of the disparities in communities of color can be traced to economics.

“Some of the challenges facing boys and men of color stem from economic challenges in their communities and lack of investment for years prior to this administration,” Gray said.

“The pandemic induced economic hardships that we’ve experienced have exacerbated those issues with many businesses closing their doors and roughly 40% of Black and Latinx businesses closed,” Gray continued.

Gray claimed that it is not all doom and gloom, however, as she mentioned what the state has done to assuage these disparities.

“The good news about the challenges we have seen is that our leadership, both in the administration and in the Legislature, have created access to programs, resources and financial assistance for small businesses to help with economic recovery and make an impact on some of the challenges facing boys and men of color,” Gray said.

Gray also spoke about investing in business opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

Through the California Reinvestment Grant Program CalCRG, for example, the state has been directly funding community-based organizations across California to expand job and re-entry programs for Black and other men of color who were impacted by the “War on Drugs.”

Services include criminal record expungement for some marijuana-related crimes; job training and placement help; mental health treatment; addiction services; housing placement and more.

Continue Reading

Crime

State Bill Reining in Rogue Police Officers Passes; Zero-Bail Bill Paused After Tragic Murder

Senate Bill (SB) 262, a bail reform bill that would have established $0 bail for some offenders, was stopped in its tracks following a grisly murder in Northern California but Senate Bill (SB) 2 and Assembly Bill (AB) 333 have both passed significant milestones on their paths to becoming law.

Published

on

Legislation Stock Photo Courtesy of California Black Media

Over the last two weeks, it has been a mixed bag of wins and losses for bills concerned with the rights of people interacting with the criminal justice system.

A bill concerned with criminal justice reform is SB 2. The state Senate approved it on September 8 with a 28-9 vote.

It calls for barring police officers who have been fired for misconduct or charged with one of a set of specific crimes from being hired in another jurisdiction in California.

Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), one of the authors of SB 2, celebrated the bill’s passing on the Senate floor.

“This is a major victory for advocates of public safety,” Bradford said. “California, and the nation as a whole, have experienced tragedy after tragedy where consequences for egregious abuses of power went unpunished and cries for accountability went unanswered — eroding public trust in law enforcement.”

“This bill is the first of its kind in California and we finally join the 46 other states with processes for the decertification of bad officers,” continued Bradford.  “SB 2 establishes a fair and balanced way to hold officers who break the public trust accountable for their actions and not simply move to a new department. This could not have been achieved without the support of many legislators, community organizations, families, and entertainers who advocated non-stop for accountability in our policing system.”

Bradford went on to explain other benefits of SB 2 as he sees it.

“The bill will create a strong and effective method for California to remove bad officers in a fair and reasonable manner. Police have one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. A decertification system puts California back on track to restoring communities’ faith in men and women of uniform who do their job well,” Bradford continued.

Senate Bill (SB) 262, a bail reform bill that would have established $0 bail for some offenders, was stopped in its tracks following a grisly murder in Northern California but Senate Bill (SB) 2 and Assembly Bill (AB) 333 have both passed significant milestones on their paths to becoming law.

In Sacramento, Troy Davis, 51, a repeat offender released on zero bail, allegedly raped and murdered a woman before setting her house on fire, killing her dogs as well.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reiseg expressed his outrage over the murder and blasted the leniency supported in bills like SB 262 that he believes is partially to blame for crimes like that.

“This horrific crime could have been avoided. He should have never been released on zero bail. Bail reform is appropriate as long as judges always have discretion to hold violent criminals in custody. When ‘reforms’ go too far, this is the nightmare. God rest her soul.” Reiseg wrote on Facebook.

Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Sacramento), who is a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, also expressed his outrage.

“This is not an isolated incident,” he tweeted. “Violent felons are released daily, terrorizing our communities because of CA’s soft on crime laws. I will continue to fight this madness and all other bills that prioritize protecting criminals instead of victims.”

The zero-bail measure was implemented by California’s Judicial Council in April last year as an emergency rule, but voters overturned it as Proposition 25, a statewide ballot initiative, in last November’s general election.

SB 262 has been amended to give judges discretion based on risk assessment, similar to SB 10 in 2018, but it is still facing backlash.

Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), author of SB 10 and SB 262, told the Associated Press that his colleagues reached out to him to express concern after the murder in Sacramento.

Hertzberg took to Twitter to address the heinous crime.

“I’m heartbroken and angered by the heinous murder of a Sacramento woman this past weekend. The parolee who did this should have never been released back to the community,” Hertzberg tweeted.

Hertzberg went on to suggest that SB 262 might have helped avoid this crime.

“The Safe and Resilient Communities Act could have prevented this crime from happening in the first place. #SB262 requires the Judicial Council to establish statewide standards for bail amounts, meaning counties will no longer be able to operate zero bail policies,” he wrote.

Hertzberg announced that he will be postponing SB 262 and hopes it will be taken up by the state Legislature next year.

“Earlier this year, the State Supreme Court ruled that California’s cash bail system is unconstitutional. SB 262 simply provided a framework for the state to implement this ruling. Don’t get me wrong: we’re not done with bail – not even close,” he tweeted.

Another criminal justice reform bill that made headlines last week was AB 333, authored by California State Senator Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles).

AB 333 would reduce “the list of crimes that allow gang enhancements to be charged, prohibiting the use of the current charge as proof of a ‘pattern’ of criminal gang activity, and separating gang allegations from underlying charges at trial,” according to a press release from Kamlager’s office.

Gang enhancements are additional prison sentences prescribed to individuals who are alleged to be associated with a criminal street gang.

As of August 2019, about 92% of adults in California with gang enhancement charges in state prisons are either Black or Latino, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) data.

Kamlager asserted that her bill is a law-and-order bill.

“At the heart of AB 333 is due process,” Kamlager said, “AB 333 just asks for the charges to be proven when they’re levied against someone. Right now, our system allows a shaved head, tattoos, or even the color of your grandma’s house as reason to be charged with a gang enhancement. That’s antithetical to how our judicial process should operate, and I am glad we are one step closer to a fix.”

AB 333 passed in the state Senate with a vote of 25-10 and on September 8 the Assembly approved it as well with a 41-30 vote.

Criminal justice reform is a complicated and nuanced undertaking that crisscrosses well established fault lines concerning public safety, criminal justice, racial equity, human dignity, and personal freedom. These bills are no exception.

Continue Reading

City Government

Price for DA Campaign Says Alameda County DA’s Office Emails Reveal Prosecutor Misconduct, Corruption, Campaign Violations

After a review of the 230 pages of emails, the Sutton Law Firm, election and political law specialists, confirmed that the level of criminal activity by prosecutors was serious and warranted the filing of complaints with the Attorney General and the FPPC.

Published

on

Pamela Price Speaking at a Protest for DA Misconduct; Photo courtesy of Gene Hazzard

In April, a public records request was filed with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Clerk of Records for all emails relating to “Pamela Price” from 2017-2021.

This summer, the DA’s office turned over 230 pages of emails which exposed a concerted and seemingly deliberate effort within the DA’s office to collude with police unions across California and take down Nancy O’Malley’s opponent in the 2018 election.

Numerous violations of civil, criminal and campaign finance laws were found, as well as a continuing pattern of misconduct by deputies and O’Malley’s top employees into the 2022 race.

“I was shocked,” said civil rights attorney Pamela Price, who is again running for District Attorney.

“During the 2018 campaign, we could only see the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “We knew they were colluding with the police associations, but It is shameful to see the extent of the misconduct and corruption in the DA’s office. At least one of these offenses is a felony. We all deserve better from people specifically hired to prosecute illegal activity. That is why I am running for DA. It is past time for change.”

After a review of the 230 pages of emails, the Sutton Law Firm, election and political law specialists, confirmed that the level of criminal activity by prosecutors was serious and warranted the filing of complaints with the Attorney General and the FPPC.

Some of the recurring violations constitute felonies and include:

  • Using County email accounts to solicit campaign contributions to pay for “hit pieces” against Price in violation of California Government Code Sections 82031, 8314 and 54964 and Penal Code Section 424;
  • Using County email accounts to spy and report on the Price campaign in violation of California Government Code Sections 8314 and 54964;
  • Using County email accounts to solicit volunteers to support O’Malley in violation of California Penal Code Section 424 and Government Code Sections 8314 and 54964.

“When we were approached about looking at the emails, I expected to see a couple of people breaking the rules of conduct,” said James Sutton, the principal attorney at the Sutton Law Firm. “I never thought that the misconduct would be so widespread within the office.”

The Sutton firm has delivered a letter to both O’Malley and Attorney General Rob Bonta, urging the Attorney General to investigate the use of the DA’s office for partisan campaigning and fundraising purposes. The letter further calls on Bonta to begin immediate review of how police unions are coercing influence within the DA’s office. In addition, a second complaint has been submitted to the Fair Political Practices Commission for its investigation.

“No one is above the law, especially not the District Attorney. I am running for DA to clean up this type of corruption and prosecutorial misconduct,” said Price. “It is about creating an office free of politics as usual and conflicts of personal interest. We must restore public trust and accountability to the DA’s office.”

“It is vital that taxpayer driven services are not being used to bolster and promote political campaigns, particularly using office resources, time and staff to run a campaign,” said Cathy Leonard of the Coalition for Police Accountability.

“Last year, the Minnesota State Attorney (Keith Ellison) stepped in to take on the work of reviewing George Floyd’s death. This action was the linchpin that led to true accountability.  The public had simply lost faith in their local justice system,” stated Hon. Victor Aguilar of the San Leandro City Council.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending