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Warner D. Willis, 78

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Warner D. Willis, Oakland businessman and pioneer in working to rehabilitate the formerly incarcerated, died on Oct. 19. He was 78.

Born in Shreveport, LA, Willis moved to Oakland at the age of 9 and later graduated from Oakland Technical High School.

 

 

He and his wife Lucille started their own Laundromat and dry cleaning business, called Avenue Speed Queen, one of the few Black-owned businesses in the Bay Area at that time.

 

Along with his wife, he helped develop the Work Furlough Program in California penal institutions. The program was designed to give men and women a chance to work outside of the prison system, to help them transition to the outside world.

 

Willis later worked on the Alaska pipeline and as a human resource counselor in the ASSETS Senior Employment Program, through the Department of Human Services.

 

Family members wish to thank the Oakland Police Department for its effectiveness and efficiency in quickly apprehending the man who is accused of killing Willis in the course of a robbery in his home.

 

Family members also expressed their gratitude for the compassion and concern that officers showed to them.

 

 

 

Community

Oakland Officer, Suspect Wounded in Shootout

A suspect was shot by an Oakland police officer early Wednesday and a police officer was also wounded before the suspect discarded his gun, barricaded himself inside a building and eventually surrendered, according to officials.

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Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong

A suspect was shot by an Oakland police officer early Wednesday and a police officer was also wounded before the suspect discarded his gun, barricaded himself inside a building and eventually surrendered, according to officials.

Police had received a report of a man armed and brandishing a firearm, who was determined to be on the 2200 block of Telegraph Avenue.

During a Wednesday morning news conference, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said that another officer returned fire after the male suspect opened fire on arriving officers.  

“The suspect immediately began to fire shots at the officer,” said Armstrong. “The officer was struck with that gunfire and through our investigation, we know now that our officer, (an) additional officer, did fire back – so we do have an officer-involved shooting that we’re also investigating, striking the suspect with non-life-threatening injuries.”

The suspect, who had a knife, barricaded himself inside the lobby of a multi-residential building. Patrol officers established a safety perimeter and advised residents to shelter in place.

OPD patrol officers, negotiators and the Mental Health Crisis Team established communication with the suspect, who was still armed with the knife and had begun stabbing and cutting himself.

Police said the suspect is 50 years old but did not identify him immediately. They also did not disclose what type of gun he had.

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.

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Commentary

First in a Series on Jobs in Oakland. City Government; Please Do No (More) Harm

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.

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High Quality stock aerial photos of downtown Oakland with Lake Merritt in the foreground.

Oakland city government declares war on the unemployed. An overstatement? Not really.

City administration professes concern for its residents who need help with access to jobs and training, while at the same time failing to issue contracts to the community organizations that stand ready to provide needed services.

The city council approved these contracts in June. As of late September, they have not been issued by the city administration.

Q: What does this mean? A: Non-profit organizations, operating on shoestring budgets in the best of times, have been required to advance their own funds in July, August, and September to serve the unemployed, with no reimbursement by the city because as the administration says, “Your contract has not been signed yet.”

Another impact: the workers who provide front line job services may not receive their paychecks on time…. creating unnecessary instability in their own households.

And who is responsible for issuing these contracts? Yup…it’s the city…. painfully tone deaf to the needs of the community, particularly those on the economic margins. Most of those served with job help are Black and Latinx residents who consistently suffer double digit unemployment. Many are returning home after incarceration.

And for this level of harmful disregard, the city receives  28 percent of scarce job training funds. Astonishing, since the city provides no direct services to job seekers.

As Oakland struggles with its horrific crime wave, it seems that attention would be paid to root causes, joblessness being paramount among them. Instead, the city administration seems intent on hobbling the very groups who stand ready to help. This happens year after year…. with no apparent consequences to an impenetrable bureaucracy.

Oakland, we can do  better than this.

We must.

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.

 

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Business

100 Diverse-Owned Oakland Businesses Could Receive a $10,000 Grant from Comcast

Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Asian American small business owners in Oakland can apply for a $10,000 grant from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, which will issue 100 grants for a total of $1 million.

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Comcast RISE/Courtesy of Comcast

Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and Asian American small business owners in Oakland can apply for a $10,000 grant from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, which will issue 100 grants for a total of $1 million.

To be eligible for the grant, businesses must:

• Have established business operations for 3 or more years

• Have one to 25 employees

• Be based within Oakland, California city limits

The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE – which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment – a multiyear, multi-faceted initiative launched in 2020 to provide people of color-owned small businesses the opportunity to apply for marketing and technology services from Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable. If a business is not eligible for the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, applications are also open for marketing and technology services. In fact, 228 businesses in California have been selected as Comcast RISE recipients.

“Like many others, my small business was impacted by the pandemic. Thanks to the Comcast RISE program, I can reach new audiences,” said Judi Townsend, owner of Mannequin Madness and Oakland resident. She has benefited from the program twice, once with the production and placement of a TV commercial and then with a technology makeover.

“The application process was much more straight forward than other grants. I encourage my fellow eligible business owners to apply for the grant and the other benefits.” To help drive outreach and awareness about Comcast RISE and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast has also awarded a $50,000 grant to the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

“The economic effects of the global pandemic have been felt worldwide, including significant impacts here in Oakland,” said Barbara Leslie, President & CEO, Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. We know that our small, local, woman-owned and Black, Indigenous and People Of Color businesses – who are responsible for creating the beautiful tapestry we call home – have been disproportionately impacted by COVID. We applaud Comcast’s vision, through the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, to ensure that small businesses that exist today can be a part of Oakland’s economic and social fabric both tomorrow and for many years to come.”

Comcast RISE is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative that Comcast launched last year. In June 2020, Comcast NBCUniversal announced the development of a comprehensive, multi-year plan to allocate $75 million in cash and $25 million in media over the next three years to fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.

Grant recipients will also receive a complimentary 12-month membership to the coaching program from Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs, to help them build skills, gain more customers and become financially stable. Eligible businesses can apply online at www.ComcastRISE.com from October 1 through October 14, 2021 for one of the 100 $10,000 grants. More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or the marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.

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