After property damage and looting swept through Oakland two weeks ago in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the national refocus on police brutality that followed, city officials are bringing legislation to the forefront to match the community’s call for changes in policing.
Specifically, the movement to “defund police” is moving briskly in Oakland. On Tuesday, Oakland Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas will introduce a budget amendment to reallocate $25 million from the Oakland Police Department’s budget to community programs and services.
“As elected leaders, we must condemn systemic racism, including acts of police brutality, racial profiling, and the use of excessive and militarized force,” Bas said. “After 17 years of non-compliance with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, 3 years of underinvestment to our citizen oversight Police Commission, and the deaths of Oscar Grant, Richard Perkins, Demouria Hogg, Erik Salgado and many others to law enforcement, it is long overdue that we act for police accountability, investment in our communities and transformative safety solutions.”
Days after hundreds of protesters descended on the home of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf in an effort to urge her to support defunding the police, they used the same strategy on Monday morning to visit the homes of Councilmembers Noel Gallo, Loren Taylor, and Dan Kalb.
Meanwhile, Oakland Unified School District Trustees Roseann Torres and Shanthi Gonzales introduced a resolution last Wednesday calling for its campus police force to be phased out by the end of this year. In cases of emergency, the school district would seek help from the Oakland Police Department, the trustees said.
Annual funding for the school district’s police force is $6.5 million and includes 10 sworn officers, and about 60 non-sworn security guards.
Gallo, a former OUSD trustee, told KTVU that he does not agree with the proposed resolution, noting the district attempted contracting with OPD once in the past. “The OPD contracting didn’t work out,” Gallo told the television station. “Their approach to violence was unacceptable.”
The proposal to eliminate the campus police force was buoyed last week when it received blessings from OUSD Superintendent Kayla Johnson-Trammell, the OUSD police chief, and OUSD Board President Jody London.
Councilmember Bas’ defund proposal also includes shifting $2.5 million from OPD to the school district to help support planning as its police force is dissolved. A vote on the resolution is expected sometime this summer.