Oakland. Someone unfamiliar with the city might hear the name and imagine it as some bucolic Shangri-la, a place where one might gambol among rolling green hills before stopping to take a nap in the shade of an oak tree’s spreading boughs. But if you’ve spent so much as an hour in Oakland, Calif., you know that anyone so imprudent as to take a nap anywhere outdoors in the city runs the very real risk of awakening at gunpoint having his pockets rifled by some thug.
A map generated by Crimemapping.com depicts the 424 affronts to the commonweal reported to the Oakland Police Department over the last week, including 34 robberies, 21 burglaries, 126 stolen cars, and 100 assaults. Remarkably, there was only one homicide, though there have been eight recorded since Jan. 1, including four within a few blocks of the intersection of International Boulevard and 85th Avenue (not a neighborhood for napping, unless you want the nap to be permanent).
Read it and weep.
Always one to raise a moistened finger into the political wind is California Governor Gavin Newsom, who surely sees himself as the Democrats’ likely substitute presidential candidate when Joe Biden, the “elderly man with a poor memory,” drops out of the race or is expelled from it through party machinations. To that end, Newsom announced the deployment of 120 California Highway Patrol officers to Oakland and the greater East Bay area.
As a political ploy, Newsom’s move may make some sense; as a public safety measure, not so much. The sight of marked CHP cruisers on the streets of Oakland may have some deterrent effect on the city’s criminal class, but unless those officers are willing to get out of their cars and engage in the kind of proactive police work required to strike fear in the hearts of hoodlums, it will all be theater – good for generating headlines but little else.
And even if those CHP officers make legally sound arrests, there is no guarantee those arrests will result in prosecutions. Oakland is in Alameda County, whose district attorney is Pamela Price, one of the many George Soros-funded “progressive” prosecutors infesting D.A. offices across the country. Her campaign website prominently featured a quote from the late Ron Dellums, who served 13 terms as a Democratic congressman in the East Bay and one term as Oakland’s mayor. Price, he said, “will end the racial disparity in prosecutions and mass incarceration of Black and Brown people.”
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Soros contributed $130,000 to Price’s unsuccessful election effort in 2018. Prior to her election in 2022, Price had been a defense attorney for 30 years. She had never prosecuted a criminal case. An effort to recall Price is now underway.
As the crime map attests, Price’s policies have achieved the results expected by anyone but the most committed police abolitionist. Robberies increased by 38 percent in 2023 over the previous year, burglaries by 23 percent, and auto theft by 44 percent. Homicides in the city remained constant, though this is small comfort as the constant number was 120, giving Oakland a homicide rate of 27 per 100,000 population, by far the worst in the Bay Area and among the worst in the country. In perhaps the most severe blow to the city’s pride, In-N-Out Burger has announced its Oakland location, though profitable, will close in March.
The pride of California burgerdom.
But maybe Newsom has an answer to the non-prosecution problem as well. In addition to the 120 CHP officers, he will send three deputy attorneys general to Alameda County, though if they answer to Price and follow her policies, it’s difficult to imagine what impact they’ll have other than, again, generating headlines for Gavin Newsom.
Oakland has long been considered the ugly stepsister to San Francisco, its neighbor across the bay, but recent years have seen San Francisco lose much of its charm as homelessness, drug abuse, and crime have all increased. If he were still alive, Tony Bennett might today sing, “I left my heart – and my wallet, luggage, and laptop – in San Francisco.” As dire as things have become in San Francisco, its violent crime rate is still less than half of Oakland’s. San Franciscans may mourn the loss of luster in what the late San Francisco Chronicle legend Herb Caen called “Baghdad by the Bay,” but they can still claim some measure of civic pride in saying, “Sure it’s bad, but it’s still not as bad as Oakland!”
The ills befalling Oakland are merely the most severe examples of those afflicting every large and medium-sized city in California, where progressive politics reign supreme in what has become a one-party state. The state that produced President Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election may soon, should Joe Biden be ushered into retirement, produce President Gavin Newsom.
I cringe at the thought of it.