|Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.|
OAKLAND | Is Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf enjoying a free pass from the press that her predecessor Jean Quan never enjoyed? Yes. Example: the press scrum that followed Schaaf on a tour of Oakland schools earlier this month. You know, as if she didn’t know the school district was in the dumps?
Will Schaaf receive the early benefit of the doubt from Oakland’s aggressive and ideological band of demonstrators? No. Example: On Monday morning, the same groups of Oaklanders sent her a wake-up call.
It was reported about 50 demonstrators gathered in front of Schaaf’s home this morning. They chanted the mayor’s name, shouted through bullhorns and blasted portions of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches.
During the past mayoral campaign, Schaaf vividly recalled for me one poignant moment in 2013 as a city council meeting on the DAC barreled through the early morning hours. As Schaaf spoke, a young woman in the audience, screamed, “I hope you die in your mansion, Libby!” The provocative comment momentarily silenced Schaaf and the entire chambers. Schaaf continued and noted that, in fact, she did not live in a mansion.
Place these scenes in the back of your mind for future reference because this fractured relationship between Schaaf and protesters is very similar to the dynamic that hampered Quan following the infamous crackdown on Occupy Oakland. The issue manifested itself in many ways, including, the reason why Schaaf, not Quan, now sits in the mayor’s office.
Demonstrators, today, said they arrived at Schaaf’s doorstep in response to her paying political alms to law enforcement on Day One. But, she should also take heed of their warning because they represent reality in Oakland and may evoke Quan’s first few months in office four years ago.
The city is a powder keg ready to ignite and the cause may not be readily identifiable at this point, but also avoidable. In January 2011, do you think Quan realized a bunch of people camping out in front of City Hall would effectively scuttle her administration? Its most likely bursting point center around issues in which Schaaf’s political constituencies are perceived to be the core problem. The haves versus have-nots, gentrification and police misconduct. among other issues.
If Schaaf doesn’t embrace these same people who stood in front of her home Monday, she won’t move all of Oakland forward. Instead, her first official duty was, in effect, to thumb her nose at the group that is most vocal and most liable to drag her down.
Hanging out with police on her first day on the job says I’m with the hills. It doesn’t convey the campaign message of “I’m hella with all of Oakland.”