By Xion Abiodun
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff has proposed a budget that increases police spending, due to violent crime increasing.This idea has definitely infuriated some Oakland natives, including myself. With Oakland being the home of the Black Panthers and known for the murder of Oscar Grant, this idea seems absurd. Oakland has always been in the spotlight when it comes to police brutality.
Last year many people marched in Oakland and other cities to demand cities to defund the police, because they constantly abuse their power. At the beginning of quarantine, we (a group of young women, including myself) were on a zoom call with the mayor expressing to her that police in our communities are menaces, more than help. She seemed to agree with us, and ultimately said she would try to help. She even invited us to a few in-person events, where we could have discussions about it. But why have discussions around it, if you’re not going to try to fix the issue?
The mayor wants to give the police an extra $700 million on top of the $3.5 billion that already goes towards them. With $700 million, we can do things that are actually beneficial to the community, like build a tiny home town for the homeless, or use that money to go towards OUSD underpaid teachers. Most of the people I know, including myself who are from/live in Oakland, have experienced police harassment. Unfortunately the run-ins I had with the police were with the ones who worked at my school, like so many other students!
The mayor claims that the proposed budget is because of violent crime, but fails to realize that the police are the ones committing the violent crimes. For example, last year during the George Floyd protests in Oakland, everything was peaceful until police started throwing tear gas at people. Of course the media made it look like the protesters started the chaos, and the officers faced no consequences.
In a city and nation where police officers are not held accountable for their actions, increasing their budget does not seem like a sensible action. We asked for the city to defund them, not give them an extra $700 million. This feels like a slap in the face to me and others, who put their safety on the line daily, to be treated like humans!
Here are some things you can do to try to make sure the police don’t get this extra money, call the mayor’s office and leave a message on why you think the police should not get an increased salary. Tell others so that they can make the call too! Go online to defund12.org/Oakland and write an email to our city officials on why we need to defund them.